SIX ESCALATION SCENARIOS SPIRALING TO WORLD NUCLEAR WAR
A world nuclear war is one that involves most or all nuclear powers releasing a large proportion of their nuclear weapons at targets in nuclear, and perhaps non-nuclear, states. Such a war could be initiated accidentally, aggressively or pre-emptively and could continue and spread through these means or by retaliation by a party attacked by nuclear weapons. While some speak of “limited nuclear war,” it is likely that any nuclear war will quickly escalate and spiral out of control because of the “use them or loose them” strategy. If you don’t use all your nuclear weapons you are likely to have them destroyed by the enemy’s nuclear weapons.
Such a war could start through a reaction to terrorist attacks, or through the need to protect against overwhelming military opposition, or through the use of small battle field tactical nuclear weapons meant to destroy hardened targets. It might quickly move on to the use of strategic nuclear weapons delivered by short-range or inter-continental missile or long-range bomber. These could deliver high altitude bursts whose electromagnetic pulse knocks out electrical circuits for hundreds of square miles. Or they could deliver nuclear bombs to destroys nuclear and/or non-nuclear military facilities, nuclear power plants, important industrial sites and cities. Or it could skip all those steps and start through the accidental or reckless use of strategic weapons.
Below are seven scenarios by which world nuclear war could come about. While these are some of the major scenarios and combination of attacks and retaliations, they are hardly exhaustive. U.S., Russian and other nuclear nations’ weapons strategizers deal with these scenarios every day but rarely let mere citizens in on their grizzly thinking. Citizens must end their denial and become aware of such scenarios.
Accidental: Since the United States and Russia have “launch on warning” systems that send off rockets before it is confirmed a nuclear attack is underway, any tensions between them can lead to massive nuclear war within thirty minutes of a warning — no matter how false the warning may be.
Aggressive: One or more nations decides to use weapons against nuclear or non-nuclear nations in order to promote an economic, political or military goal, as part of an ongoing war or as a first strike nuclear attack. (The state , of course, may claim it is a pre-emptive, retaliatory or even accidental attack.)
Pre-emptive: One or more nations believes (correctly or incorrectly) or claims to believe that another nuclear nation is about to use nuclear weapons against its nuclear, military, industrial or civilian targets and pre-emptively attacks that nation. May result from political or military “brinkmanship.”
Retaliatory: Use of nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack — or even a conventional, chemical or biological attack by a non-nuclear nation.