Nuke attack on D.C.A nuke blast in D.C. would not destroy city: report

Published 28 March 2012

A study finds that a 10-kiloton bomb detonated in Washington, D.C. would destroy many buildings and kill many people, but it would not completely destroy the city; says one expert: “If you are thinking about (a city) being wiped off the face of the earth, that’s not what happens”

A little-known study, titled “Key Response Planning for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism,” concluded that if a 10-kiloton nuclear device – that is, a bomb similar in yield to the one dropped on Hiroshima – were detonated a few blocks north of the White House, the explosion would result, according to a report in the Boston Globe, in the predictable devastation of everything within a half-mile radius, that is, as far south as the South Lawn of the White House and as far east as the FBI building.

The utter destruction of the buildings, and the probable deaths of everyone within the blast zone, is a certainty, but outside the blast zone such an event would be pretty survivable.

The U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials would survive with minor damage.

The greater danger would be the radioactive fallout, which would yield exposure of 500 to 800 Roentgens to thousands of people, an amount ensuring their deaths. The instinct to rush outside would expose more people to lethal amounts of radiation.

The Globe quotes Brian Michael Jenkins, a senior adviser to the president of the RAND Corporation, as saying: “Our images of nuclear war are either of Hiroshima or Nagasaki or what we saw in the movies during the Cold War…. If you are thinking about (a city) being wiped off the face of the earth, that’s not what happens.”