Wednesday, March 28, 2012

U.S.: Nuclear bomb would not destroy capital

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hollywood has destroyed Washington - or New York or Los Angeles - lots of times with nuclear bombs detonated by terrorists. It turns out to be harder in real life.

Thinking about the unthinkable, a U.S. government study analyzed the likely effects from terrorists setting off a 10-kiloton nuclear device a few blocks north of the White House. It predicted terrible devastation for roughly one-half mile (one kilometer) in every direction, with buildings reduced to rubble the way that World War II bombing raids destroyed parts of Berlin. But outside that blast zone, the study concluded, even such a nuclear explosion would be pretty survivable.

"It's not the end of the world," said Randy Larsen, a retired Air Force colonel and founding director of the Institute for Homeland Security. "It's not a Cold War scenario."

The little-noticed, 120-page study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency was hardly a summer blockbuster. The study, "Key Response Planning Factors for the Aftermath of Nuclear Terrorism," was produced in November by the Homeland Security Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Even though the government considers it "for official use only" and never published it online, the study circulated months later on scientific and government watchdog websites. Read More