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Make the Bomb Against the Law - Mass Murder is a Crime

Message Robert A. Leishear, PhD, PE, ASME Fellow

Pushing some buttons can annihilate hundreds of thousands, or millions, of lives in the flash of a nuclear blast, and yet there are no international laws to hold those accountable for such a murderous act.

Make a new law to punish this war crime, where horrific death counts are listed here for different cities. Pictures in this article show the death counts that nuclear bombs would have in New York City.

Fear of Nuclear War Deaths

Fear of a nuclear war in Ukraine was needed for us to stop and clearly understand that there are no rules to prevent or control nuclear devastation, and to fully understand that there are no laws governing those who have the power to use such atrocious weapons. The information was known to some people, but publications brought this information into better focus for the public. Even so, no actions are underway to make these thunderously lethal weapons illegal (Figure 1).

Figure 1: The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated - This Hydrogen bomb was 3300 times more explosive than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima
Figure 1: The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated - This Hydrogen bomb was 3300 times more explosive than the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima
(Image by Russian government)
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Choices for Death

The scope of the atomic bomb horror was graphically discussed in "The horror of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons - Insights sparked by events in Ukraine and North Korea" (click here). And, the illegality of nuclear bomb murder was discussed in "Would the detonation of tactical nuclear weapons (atomic bombs) against people equal mass murder and war crimes?" (Click Here ).

Many countries have nuclear bombs at their fingertips; i.e., Russia, the U.S., China, France, the U.K., Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea ("Countries with Nuclear Weapons 2022", Click Here). Nuclear weapons include smaller atomic bombs that are dwarfed by hydrogen bombs in destruction and death.

A fact is that there are no international laws to punish the use of nuclear bombs as war crimes. Nuclear bomb use can escalate into global nuclear war, but if that happens nobody will be considered to be a criminal for firing the first nuclear bomb, firing the second nuclear bomb, or firing any bomb after those two bombs ignite a global nuclear disaster.

More Death

Even though the process to fire a nuclear weapon takes minutes, the final action is the same as pushing a button ("Here's the chillingly short amount of time it would take for a nuclear missile to reach the UK", click here). Any leader with a nuclear button can kill hundreds of thousands of people if they choose (Figure 2).

Using so-called tactical nuclear weapons, Putin can kill hundreds of thousands of people if he chooses. Biden can kill hundreds of thousands of people if he chooses. Xi can kill hundreds of thousands of people if he chooses. Kim can kill hundreds of thousands of people if he chooses. If hydrogen bombs enter a war, these same leaders can kill millions of people, using a single bomb from their massive nuclear arsenals. As I stated in a previous Op Ed, these are scary times.

If national leaders ignite a nuclear war - or they join a nuclear war that some other country ignited - they are presently not legally accountable for wrong-doing at the end of any global nuclear disaster that they ignite. Such a legal system is grossly incompetent, and nations must band together to make nuclear bomb murder a war crime.

Figure 2: Weapons of mass death include missiles, aircraft, and artillery
Figure 2: Weapons of mass death include missiles, aircraft, and artillery
(Image by Russian government.)
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Even More Death

The explosive yields for atomic and hydrogen nuclear weapons vary significantly. At Hiroshima, a 15 kiloton bomb killed more than 80,000 people. A hydrogen bomb can kill millions. Hiroshima was an airburst to increase the number killed. Airbursts at higher altitudes can maximize the number of deaths, while radioactive fallout can be minimized.

Table 1 predicts estimates for the number of deaths and injuries for different types of nuclear weapons and locations. A 15 kiloton so-called tactical weapon, or atomic bomb, is compared to a manufactured 100,000 kiloton (TNT equivalent) hydrogen bomb. Note that this software cannot model the 10 times more explosive, one gigaton designed bomb (1,000,000 kiloton bomb). A 50 megaton bomb is shown in Figure 1.

For horrific comparisons, deaths and injuries are also shown in Table 1 for single hydrogen bomb airbursts at Moscow, Paris, London, and other cities. Again, the press refers to airbursts as if they are fireworks. Airbursts are extraordinarily deadly.

Table 1: Nuclear explosion yields for New York, Kiev, Hiroshima, and other cities
Table 1: Nuclear explosion yields for New York, Kiev, Hiroshima, and other cities
(Image by Robert A. Leishear, Adapted from Alex Wellerstein)
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Nuclear War Models of Death

Models were performed to understand the scope of destruction brought about by nuclear war. For Table 1, I obtained approximate nuclear explosion results, using Nukemap by Alex Wellerstein. He noted that 'Modeling casualties from a nuclear attack is difficult. These numbers should be seen as evocative, not definitive' (https://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap). Even so, Hiroshima death estimates are reasonably predicted at 96,280 for the 80,000 to 100,000 death Hiroshima attack.

The Hiroshima bomb was within the range of so-called tactical nuclear weapons, where the explosive yield of tactical weapons can be as small as 0.3 kilotons. Note than even this smaller weapon can kill thousands if detonated on the ground, and the death count from an airburst varies with the height of the explosion above the ground.

To visualize the destruction from different bombs, Figures 3, 4 and 5 are presented here. Figure 3 shows the theoretical damage of a Hiroshima / tactical atomic bomb in New York, when exploded at ground level. Figure 4 shows that same bomb when airbursted. Figure 5 shows the effects of an airbursted hydrogen bomb over New York City.

We Have Worked Hard to Perfect Mass Murder

Note in these figures that an atomic blast fireball ignited on the ground kills everything close to the bomb (100% death), and an airburst spreads death over a larger area to kill more people. For a 15 kiloton bomb, deaths are primarily contained in New York City. For a 100 kiloton bomb, death is spread far into New York state and New Jersey.

We have perfected weapons of death. For Table 1, results are presented for the largest Russian weapon ever built. Whether or not such weapons are presently available for use is unknown. This explosive yield was chosen for display to represent the range of death from these weapons. Note that smaller yield nuclear bombs can target a city, where multiple warheads can be detonated on that city. Either way, mass murder would be the result.

Figure 3: 15 Kiloton, atomic bomb, ground explosion, New York
Figure 3: 15 Kiloton, atomic bomb, ground explosion, New York
(Image by Robert A. Leishear, Adapted from Alex Wellerstein)
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Figure 4: 15 Kiloton, atomic bomb, airburst explosion, New York
Figure 4: 15 Kiloton, atomic bomb, airburst explosion, New York
(Image by Robert A. Leishear, Adapted from Alex Wellerstein)
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Figure 5: 100,000 Kiloton, hydrogen bomb explosion, airburst explosion, New York
Figure 5: 100,000 Kiloton, hydrogen bomb explosion, airburst explosion, New York
(Image by Robert A. Leishear, Adapted from Alex Wellerstein)
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Choices for Life

The 'Ban the Bomb' movement failed to change the fact that nations possess nuclear weapons, where nations maintain nuclear weapon arsenals with a claim for deterrence of war. Walk softly, and carry a big stick.

'The Ban the Bomb movement grew after the war. Tens of thousands of people marched from the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, to Trafalgar Square' ("Ban the Bomb Movement Walks From Aldermaston To London And More: 1952-1963", Click Here). There have been other protest marches since then, and there are anti-nuclear weapons organizations. Even so, atomic and hydrogen bombs are still here, and these ready-to-use, ready-to-shoot bombs number in the thousands.

A basically ineffective law was even passed by the United Nations to control nuclear weapons. 'At the United Nations in 2017, 122 countries, none of them possessing nuclear weapons, negotiated and voted for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which required 50 nations to ratify before becoming law' ("Ban the Bomb' becomes international law, but U.S. doesn't sign on", click here). That is, the nations that own nuclear bombs did not approve that law, and therefore choose not to be bound by that law.

More Life

President John F. Kennedy and Chairman Nikita Khrushchev brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Our leaders control nuclear wars.

A co-worker at a defense contractor in the 1970s told me that he had been in the military, he worked for a U.S. nuclear missile silo, and that nuclear missiles were in a final countdown to fire hydrogen bombs at Russia. This statement cannot be proven, and would still be a classified military secret, but I believed him. That countdown is how close we came to nuclear war.

Kennedy and Khrushchev negotiated a peace agreement as they dangerously tugged on the knot of war. To explain how close we were to a nuclear world war, read the following letter from Khrushchev to Kennedy.

'Mr. President, we and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it, and then it will be necessary to cut that knot. And what that would mean is not for me to explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly of what terrible forces our countries dispose. Consequently, if there is no intention to tighten that knot and thereby to doom the world to the catastrophe of thermonuclear war, then let us not only relax the forces pulling on the ends of the rope, let us take measures to untie that knot. We are ready for this'.

Another Choice for Life

Right now, fears of a nuclear war seem to dissipate as "Russia's Putin says he won't use nuclear weapons in Ukraine" (click here). However, some people still stoke the nuclear fire ("Biden questions Putin's claim Russia won't use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, criticizes 'dangerous' rhetoric", click here). Nuclear weapon attacks in the future are unknown - near-term or long-term.

My recommendation to make nuclear bomb-detonation murders illegal falls short of recommendations by some others, but there are presently no applicable laws at all. If someone commits the horror of nuclear devastation, they should be charged as war criminals, and a law, or treaty, needs to written and signed in advance of such a horrific act.

Laws to Save Lives

One way or the other, this international experience with the Russia-Ukraine war also highlights the fact that atomic bombs are diminished in importance by members of the press and government as so-called tactical weapons. Weapons of such horror should never be considered to be a reasonable use of atomic bombs against human life.

Any atomic bomb, of any explosive yield, should never be used to destroy lives. There should be a law against mass murder. Those who can create nuclear war are not the law, and they are not above the law.

Make the bomb illegal. Make those who can push the nuclear war buttons answer to the law, and perhaps fear and respect the law. Make mass murder a criminal offense. Make mass murder a punishable offense. Make a nuclear massacre against the law. Make a nuclear slaughter against the law. Make nuclear atrocities against the law. Make the bomb against the law.

A Postscript

I prefer to stay out of international politics, but the abhorrent and dishonest use of the term tactical nuclear weapons pushed me over the line. My full-time interest for a number of years has been to stop loss of life during explosions of nuclear power plants, gas pipelines, and offshore oil rigs, to stop bridge collapses, and to stop multi-billion-dollar losses in our water supplies ("Preventable disasters--Never give an inch", click here).

Cover-ups by the press, regulators, industry representatives, and government officials in all of these industries are more than enough to fight against. However, the blatant disregard of the nuclear horror of these so-called tactical nuclear weapons by the press and others was sufficient cause to fight with more people.

I have heard it said that 'the sole purpose of a person's life is to determine the will of God, and to carry it out'. My perspective is not so grandiose. I just want to do the next right thing.

Now that I have stepped into international political conversations, mass murders from nuclear weapons need discussion. I raised an important issue when I asked the question if atomic or hydrogen bomb explosions on people should be war crimes. I answer that question here, and recommend part of the solution. Again, make the bomb against the law.

(Article changed on Nov 02, 2022 at 7:20 AM EDT)

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Robert A. Leishear, PhD, P.E., PMP, ASME Fellow, Who's Who in America Top Engineer, NACE Senior Corrosion Technologist, NACE Senior Internal Piping Corrosion Technologist, ANSYS Expert, AMPP Certified Protective Coatings Inspector, NACE Cathodic (more...)
 

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