We’ve been looking at the potential for a nuclear attack upon the US soil, and there are currently two fields of opinion as to what types of attack that may come. A widespread MAD war or war of mutually assured destruction is highly unlikely given the political and economic climes of today. Instead, what we are looking for is what is called a HEMP attack, or a high altitude electromagnetic pulse attack, and/or a RDD attack, sometimes called a dirty bomb.
The likelihood of a true HEMP detonation at such a high altitude required to devastate this nation with one burst is unlikely because of the costs and logistics involved in providing a delivery vehicle, such as an ICBM along with the coupled costs of obtaining a nuclear warhead large enough to be the payload in such a missile.
Instead, what we should be looking for is a lower altitude attack, of less than 10 miles of so. With the introduction to the world arm markets of Novator’s Club-K Container Missile System, such an attack has in fact become affordable to a larger circle of enemy nations and groups. It would take no more than 5 simultaneous missile launch and detonation attacks at an altitude of 120 miles to provide the same damage as a single ICBM attack at far less cost. But we still have the problem of obtaining suitable fissionable material to build a warhead for the task.
But an even more likely scenario would be a burst at around 30 miles. This would not be as clean an attack, nor would it cover the same area of land as the applicable radius would only be about 480 miles or so. However, such an attack is very affordable, and it would only take a few smaller missiles launched from much smaller boats a few miles offshore. By selectively targeting a few major coastal cities, such as New York, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles, for instance, the affect would be far greater. It would disrupt the major financial centers, as well as the most heavily populated cities.
The resulting panic would create havoc beyond belief. Not only would the radiation affect be greater, but the people in those areas would be close enough to feel as well as see that detonations heat and blast wave. At 300 miles in altitude the affect would be much less noticeable, and there would be little to no radiation contamination. At just thirty miles in altitude, the burst would be very much more apparent. It would become a personal memento of the moment to those directly under the burst zone.
Electromagnetic Pulse attacks are quite possible; however, the logistics involved, as well as the finances it would take to pull off such an attack make it rather unlikely for the time being. As time progresses and the world geopolitical spectrum changes, that likelihood will in fact increase. A more probable occurrence, and one that I believe is being prepared against by our government is the usage of an RDD, or radiological dispersion device by some terrorist element, and that may occur soon.
What is an RDD? In simple terms, an RDD is any device used to spread radioactive materials through an environment. That can include simply leaving a radioactive pellet in a trash can at a shopping mall in some metropolitan area. And this has happened before, by the way. However unintentional they may have been, accidents can also leave unintended consequences that can be costly, both financially and in human terms.
There are literally millions of tons of nuclear and/or radioactive materials around the world today, and much of it winds up in trash piles, landfills and scrap yards, ready for the easy picking by those who know what they are looking for. As for the dispersal of these materials, it’s simple as baking a pie, or simpler. For instance, a recent story in the NY Times describes the problem of radioactive waste in India’s scrap metal business.
The article says; then there is what came into the small shop owned by Deepak Jain: a piece, or pieces, of metal blamed for an alarming radiation scare this month that hospitalized seven people and caused the police to temporarily cordon off an area barely 10 miles from India’s Parliament. Some experts declared it one of the most troubling cases of radiation exposure in recent years. This man deals with scrap metal, most of which is apparently imported from outside of India, which raises many questions beyond that simple fact.
The article goes on to say; Investigators believe that Deepak Jain bought the contaminated materials in late February or early March. And that; The tube was made of an unidentifiable metal, and Deepak Jain cut a tiny sample so it could be tested to see if it was valuable. This sample wound up with another man, Ajay Jain (no relation to Deepak Jain), who placed it inside his wallet and soon forgot about it. Some other person puts a piece of radioactive material in his wallet and forgets about it. Think of the ramifications of such a simple act.
To sum up the story, the people who came into direct contact with this scrap metal got seriously ill, and the scrap shops of Mayapuri were closed down. Officials discovered eight more radioactive sources and some contaminated soil was removed. Should even these small amounts of waste be utilized by terrorists, they could incite much panic and fear within a community. There is no telling how many people could end up with long term issues such as leukemia or other cancers from inhaling the dust particles from a dirty bomb that can be easily made from everyday items purchased at your local Wal-Mart or other department store.
And the radioactive material wouldn’t even have to come from a backwater scrap dealer in India. We’ve plenty of waste kicking around our own country that could be utilized.
But to make an incredibly long story shorter than it should be, we need to prepare for the probable, not the possible. Anything is possible, at any time and in any place. But the more likely nuclear terrorist event will not be a HEMP attack, or even a low altitude burst, but a dirty bomb of some sort, or maybe even just a piece of cobalt 60 laced steel stuffed into a duffel bag and left by some terrorist in a shopping mall.
To be prepared also means to be aware of our environment. Be suspicious of any packages left in a public place, and don’t approach or handle them. Contact the local authorities and let them handle it.