A simulation, the result of a study at Princeton‘s Science and Global Security program (SGS), suggests 34 million people would be killed and 57 million injured in the first hours of an all-out nuclear conflagration – not counting those left ill by fallout and other long-term problems.
Such a scenario has become “dramatically” more plausible in the last two years because the two countries have dropped support for arms-control measures, according to the team from Princeton University.
In the animation, electronic trails of ballistic missiles arc across the screen, before blossoming into a carpet of white discs.
Worldwide destruction would include the nuclear incineration of Europe, which the Princeton scientists claimed could be brought about by the escalation of a conventional war between Russia and Nato.
They say: “In hopes of halting a US-Nato advance, Russia launches a nuclear warning shot from a base near the city of Kaliningrad. Nato retaliates with a single tactical nuclear air strike.
“As the nuclear threshold is crossed, fighting escalates to a tactical nuclear war in Europe. Russia sends 300 nuclear warheads via aircraft and short-range missiles to hit Nato bases and advancing troops. Nato responds with approximately 180 nuclear warheads via aircraft.”
After that, hundreds of further strikes are made on both sides against military nuclear forces. In the video, Russia’s red streaks lift away from the ground moments before America’s rain of blue obliterates swathes of the country; then, Moscow’s bombs crash into the US from coast to coast.
Later, Washington and Moscow would both target population centres, with up to 10 missiles per city from their remaining submarine arsenals.
SGS claims the video is “based on real force postures, targets and fatality estimates”. The first simulated nuclear blast appears to occur just inside Poland, near Wroclaw and the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic.