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View Poll Results: When will we see the next nuclear attack on another country?
NEVER - it wont happen 16 20.00%
Within 5 years 10 12.50%
Within 10 years 19 23.75%
Within 25 years 17 21.25%
Within 50 years 18 22.50%
Voters: 80. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 03-11-2013, 03:17 PM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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When Will We See The Next Nuclear Attack on Another Country?

It might all be sabre ratting at this point but are we a being naive to think it can never happen?

PRK and South Korea, China, the ENTIRE Middle East... when will our planet see the first nuclear attack on another country since WWII?

Poll coming...
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  #2  
Old 03-11-2013, 03:48 PM
Blaster Master Blaster Master is offline
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At this point, I think it will be never. There just isn't a way to justify a nuclear attack against a non-nuclear country. How could they pose a threat great enough to warrant complete annihilation? So chances are, they either have nuclear allies or it would just piss off enough of the world that it would guarantee they get all but destroyed. And, of course, attacking a nuclear nation brings up the whole mutually assured destruction.

The only way I could see it happening is if someone truly nuts and bent on either ending the world or genocide at any cost got into power in a less stable nation with nukes. That seems pretty unlikely though.
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  #3  
Old 03-11-2013, 03:59 PM
Oakminster Oakminster is offline
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I think we will see an incident of nuclear terrorism within a couple of decades. Nations are not likely to start nuking each other because of the inevitable retaliation, but terrorists have nothing to lose.
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  #4  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:20 PM
LawMonkey LawMonkey is offline
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Terrorism will always be a possibility. State-on-state is unlikely, but possible if the right set of circumstances comes to pass--say, an Islamist coup in Pakistan, or a sufficiently wacky Ayatollah in a nuclear-armed Iran. I'm fairly sure that Russia has tighted its launch procedures since the 1960s--as I recall, it was at the individual commander's level. If that were still the case, all it would take was one suicidal Russian soldier...
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  #5  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:30 PM
bump bump is offline
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I think it'll be in the next decade or so.

It almost certainly won't be from one of the big 5 (US, Russia, UK, France, China), but may well be from someone like a N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan or India.

In a state-on-state situation, I suspect it'll be N. Korea, but in a terrorism situation, the bomb could come/be stolen from any of the second 4 I mentioned.

There's also the possibility of ground-up nuclear terrorism- someone might figure out a way to get hold of enough plutonium smoke detectors to make a workable pit, or something crazy along those lines.
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  #6  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:35 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
...It almost certainly won't be from one of the big 5 (US, Russia, UK, France, China), but may well be from someone like a N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan or India...
I would switch India and China on your list
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  #7  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:41 PM
Wesley Clark Wesley Clark is online now
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I think the NK regime knows if they go nuclear their entire leadership will be killed or spend their lives in prison. So I don't think they'd actually use a nuclear weapon, at least not as an offensive weapon (maybe as a last ditch defensive weapon). However terrorist groups getting a nuke seems like the highest risk. Al Qaeda is (or at least was) full of very well educated people, so making a nuclear bomb wouldn't be hard for them if they have the fissionable material.

Nation states have too much to lose by using nuclear weapons. Unless a nation is being invaded by another nation w/o nukes, and the nuclear powered nation is about to lose. If Germany had nukes I bet they would've used them when the soviets were approaching Berlin. So if a situation like that would ever come up, then I could see a nation using them.

The problem is how realistic is that? there are something like 9 nations with nukes (US, UK, France, Russia, China, Israel, Pakistan, India, N. Korea). Aside from North Korea letting them fly while their regime is on its last legs, I don't know what geopolitical situations would make this realistic. Maybe if India attacked Pakistan and Pakistan was about to fall too, or if the middle east attacked Israel and were actually successful at it.
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  #8  
Old 03-11-2013, 04:47 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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I picked within 50 years, because sooner or later I find it inevitable that someone will be ruthless, crazy or desperate enough to use nukes. Pakistan falls apart, India & Pakistan go all out, North Korea collapses and throws everything it has at its neighbors...something like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaster Master View Post
And, of course, attacking a nuclear nation brings up the whole mutually assured destruction.
Actually that's not necessarily true. Pakistan and India for example would likely not totally destroy each other with their limited number of nukes. Which of course just makes the situation more unstable.
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  #9  
Old 03-11-2013, 05:17 PM
lisiate lisiate is offline
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I went with 25 years, to allow time for even more proliferation to occur. I wouldn't be surprised if the next state to use nukes isn't one of those who are confirmed to have them at this stage.
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  #10  
Old 03-12-2013, 04:05 AM
Dereknocue67 Dereknocue67 is offline
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Oh, how I long for days past (post WWll) when nuclear weapons were simply political weapons as opposed to tactical weapons. Thanks to advances in technology , those days are gone.
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  #11  
Old 03-12-2013, 05:45 AM
Heracles Heracles is offline
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(I assumed the OP wasn't specifically referring to the U.S. attacking another country.)

I'm pretty sure things in the Middle East will keep escalating as they've been doing for decades. I went with 10 years.
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  #12  
Old 03-12-2013, 06:17 AM
AK84 AK84 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post

Actually that's not necessarily true. Pakistan and India for example would likely not totally destroy each other with their limited number of nukes. Which of course just makes the situation more unstable.
No. They would simply destroy every major, medium and small sized urban area.
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  #13  
Old 03-12-2013, 07:31 AM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Originally Posted by AK84 View Post
No. They would simply destroy every major, medium and small sized urban area.
They don't have anywhere near the number of nuclear weapons to be able to do that. At most they have about a hundred each. Not the thousands that the USA and USSR were prepared to fire at each other.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 03-12-2013 at 07:32 AM..
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  #14  
Old 03-12-2013, 09:35 AM
Blaster Master Blaster Master is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
They don't have anywhere near the number of nuclear weapons to be able to do that. At most they have about a hundred each. Not the thousands that the USA and USSR were prepared to fire at each other.
I don't think MAD necessarily requires eliminating every single citizen of the other country, just the ability to do massive and irreversible damage. Sure, Russia and the US had enough nukes during the cold war to kill everyone in the othe country 10x over, but all it really takes is enough damage to make the consequences unthinkable. If Russia had only a hundred nukes, but aimed them all at the highest population areas like New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, DC/Baltimore, etc. it would have served as effectively the same level of deterent. They would have still caused a massive deathtoll, crippled our economy, and toppled our government into anarchy. To some extent, that is actually worse than just killing us all because there'd be more people left to suffer in the aftermath and likely other nations coming in and asserting power and all sorts of things.

So, as far as India and Pakistan, I think they're evenly enough matched that it still holds. Whereas a nation like North Korea doesn't have enough to prevent another country from attacking them, within 5-10 years they could at best take out a city or two whereas most of the rest could wipe them out, so at least the self-preservation aspect ought to keep them in check and the rest I think are stable enough not to wantonly attack them.
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  #15  
Old 03-12-2013, 10:00 AM
Hermitian Hermitian is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bump View Post
It almost certainly won't be from one of the big 5 (US, Russia, UK, France, China), but may well be from someone like a N. Korea, Iran, Pakistan or India.
I agree with this. The big boys have had enough experience and time to develop more mature and safeguarded nuclear weapon systems. Some of the other countries are less stable, have more strapped-together weapon systems (more likelihood of accidents) and have less to lose if they start something. A nuclear weapon is far more likely to come from one of these than the larger countries listed above.

However, I might include India in the larger countries, and I might put Israel in the more likely-to-use countries. Israel is more likely to use them out of real or perceived desperation. Not that I can entirely blame them.
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  #16  
Old 03-12-2013, 10:44 AM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is offline
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When those who remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and its victims are all dead, the risk will be greater. When those who grew up in the shadow of the Cold War are all dead, it will be greater still. When the sabre-rattlers are all born in the 1970s or later, I think the odds go up.

But I hope never.
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  #17  
Old 03-12-2013, 10:47 AM
chargerrich chargerrich is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
Israel is more likely to use them out of real or perceived desperation. Not that I can entirely blame them.
Oh I will blame them...

I will blame anyone that launches a nuke for any reason.
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  #18  
Old 03-12-2013, 11:04 AM
Loach Loach is offline
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I said ten years. The technology is to widespread and there are too many fanatics. I think detonation of a radiological bomb is even more certain.
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  #19  
Old 03-12-2013, 11:07 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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I'll guess some time between 50 years and never.
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  #20  
Old 03-12-2013, 11:09 AM
septimus septimus is online now
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There are several plausible ways a nuclear weapon could be used:
* Iran develops, or is about to develop, nukes. U.S. or Israel know where they are but they are underground and can only be destroyed by nukes.
* Kim Jong-un, shy awkward young man who is Supreme Leader of N.K., gets suicidal. Even most dictatorships have some top-level command structure to protect against a single maniac, but are we sure N.K. does?
* Some country, e.g. North Korea, miscalculates and begins a very high casualty war. U.S. calculates quick nuclear retaliation will save lives.
* Renegade individual gets control of nukes. He might detonate one just as a demo for potential purchasers.
* It recently came to light that in 1962 a Soviet submarine almost fired a nuclear torpedo at U.S. ship. Are such tactical nukes still in common use?

These seem like present-day dangers. Since dangers might increase in future rather than lessen, "within 25 years" seems not unlikely.
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  #21  
Old 03-12-2013, 11:22 AM
Diceman Diceman is online now
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I say within the next dacade, and the most likely source will be North Korea. If the sanctions cause things to get sufficiently desperate, then the leaders might well figure that they have little left to lose. Also, if they have bunkers capable of surviving a nuclear strike (or, if they think they do), then that just might be enough to make them willing to call our bluff and start a war.

Any "terrorist" nuclear strike would, IMO, most likely be a covert attack by a nation, using the terrorism angle to provide deniability. As unlikely as this seems, there's reason to believe it might work. The 9/11 attackers were almost all Saudis, and yet Saudi Arabia is still considered a US ally. As is Pakistan, even though it is widely believed that Pakistani intelligence was protecting Osama bin Laden right up until the day of his death.
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  #22  
Old 03-12-2013, 12:35 PM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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I say within the next 5 years. I’m not going to be looking for a mushroom cloud over Miami but a dirty bomb is incredibly easy to make, transport and detonate. Some pack of wackos (al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, PETA, The People's Liberation Front of Judea, etc.) will decide that now is the perfect time to show how serious they are by irradiating their enemy. Imagine the emotional impact of seeing Wall Street or Jerusalem turned into a radioactive ghost town like Chernobyl.
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  #23  
Old 03-12-2013, 12:52 PM
bump bump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
There are several plausible ways a nuclear weapon could be used:
* Iran develops, or is about to develop, nukes. U.S. or Israel know where they are but they are underground and can only be destroyed by nukes.
Not likely, but not impossible. I think it's much more likely that if there was a US military response, they'd basically try and destroy the airshafts and tunnels to the bunker and just effectively bury them. I don't see the US ever first-using nuclear weapons, unless one of the 50 states or Puerto Rico is directly threatened. The Israelis on the other hand might well try that, assuming they have an effective bunker-buster nuke.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
* Kim Jong-un, shy awkward young man who is Supreme Leader of N.K., gets suicidal. Even most dictatorships have some top-level command structure to protect against a single maniac, but are we sure N.K. does?v
This is more what I think will happen. Kim Jong Il or Ahmadinejad or an Islamist junta gets control of Pakistan, loses all sense and restraint, and nukes someone because they can.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
* Some country, e.g. North Korea, miscalculates and begins a very high casualty war. U.S. calculates quick nuclear retaliation will save lives.
I think that would work the other way around; N. Korea miscalculates, starts a war that moves them onto the defensive very quickly and nukes a S. Korean city or US/S. Korean troops in the field in a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat.


Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
* Renegade individual gets control of nukes. He might detonate one just as a demo for potential purchasers.
I don't see this happening; the last thing you'd want to do if you had nuclear weapons for sale would be to tip your hand in such a grand fashion. Every Western, and a lot of non-Western security and intelligence services would be hunting you harder than Osama Bin Laden.

Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
* It recently came to light that in 1962 a Soviet submarine almost fired a nuclear torpedo at U.S. ship. Are such tactical nukes still in common use?
No. I think the US retains some of these weapons, but IIRC, there aren't any tactical nukes on submarines anymore, and the vast majority (if not all) that remain in the arsenal are B61 free-fall nuclear weapons dropped from planes.
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  #24  
Old 03-12-2013, 12:59 PM
panaccione panaccione is offline
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Am I jinxing it by picking never? I sure hope not.
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  #25  
Old 03-12-2013, 03:49 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blaster Master View Post
I don't think MAD necessarily requires eliminating every single citizen of the other country, just the ability to do massive and irreversible damage. Sure, Russia and the US had enough nukes during the cold war to kill everyone in the othe country 10x over, but all it really takes is enough damage to make the consequences unthinkable. If Russia had only a hundred nukes, but aimed them all at the highest population areas like New York, LA, Chicago, Boston, DC/Baltimore, etc. it would have served as effectively the same level of deterent. They would have still caused a massive deathtoll, crippled our economy, and toppled our government into anarchy. To some extent, that is actually worse than just killing us all because there'd be more people left to suffer in the aftermath and likely other nations coming in and asserting power and all sorts of things.

So, as far as India and Pakistan, I think they're evenly enough matched that it still holds. Whereas a nation like North Korea doesn't have enough to prevent another country from attacking them, within 5-10 years they could at best take out a city or two whereas most of the rest could wipe them out, so at least the self-preservation aspect ought to keep them in check and the rest I think are stable enough not to wantonly attack them.
I think you underestimate the willingness of leaders to get their people killed "for a good cause".

"At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slypork View Post
I say within the next 5 years. I’m not going to be looking for a mushroom cloud over Miami but a dirty bomb is incredibly easy to make, transport and detonate. Some pack of wackos (al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, PETA, The People's Liberation Front of Judea, etc.) will decide that now is the perfect time to show how serious they are by irradiating their enemy. Imagine the emotional impact of seeing Wall Street or Jerusalem turned into a radioactive ghost town like Chernobyl.
"Dirty bombs" aren't nuclear weapons and wouldn't do that. They aren't likely to kill anyone who isn't right next to them, which is probably why no one tries to make one; it shouldn't be too hard to get hold of enough radioactive garbage from a hospital or such for one. I recall a case where a bunch of kids in IIRC Mexico got themselves irradiated by playing with "glowing dust" they found improperly disposed of in a junkyard; if they could find some, so could terrorists.

Last edited by Der Trihs; 03-12-2013 at 03:50 PM..
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  #26  
Old 03-13-2013, 03:52 PM
Slypork Slypork is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Der Trihs View Post
"Dirty bombs" aren't nuclear weapons and wouldn't do that. They aren't likely to kill anyone who isn't right next to them, which is probably why no one tries to make one; it shouldn't be too hard to get hold of enough radioactive garbage from a hospital or such for one. I recall a case where a bunch of kids in IIRC Mexico got themselves irradiated by playing with "glowing dust" they found improperly disposed of in a junkyard; if they could find some, so could terrorists.
Maybe you are thinking of the Goiania accident?

I know that a dirty bomb won't wipe out a large area but imagine what would happen if one was placed on the floor of the NYSE or in the middle of a museum or mall. Better yet, left in Times Square or a comparable location. The initial explosion kills a few people, the cloud of debris covers the immediate area and radioactive material gets carried by the air currents for a few blocks. The quarantine would prevent normal business from occurring and causing people to be more cautious in approaching public areas. Who would want to go shopping if they are afraid the next bomb might happen when they are browsing at Macy's? The cost would be enormous as the radioactive material is cleaned up (roads and buildings scoured and the water siphoned off so it doesn't go into sewers). Even if "only" a handful of people receive a dose strong enough to make them sick but not kill them the terrorists would have struck a huge psychological impact on our way of life.
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