NTK looked at potential damage that a miniaturized North Korean nuke could do to U.S. cities. Here’s an updated summary following Kim’s H-Bomb test.
About a month ago, reports emerged that North Korea had developed the capability to miniaturize nuclear warheads so that the regime could deliver the weapons via Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
After the miniaturization reports, NTK analyzed the devastation on U.S. cities that are within range of North Korea’s successful ballistic missile tests:
According to missile expert David Wright, Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago are well within the range of North Korea’s latest successfully-tested missile, and Boston and New York sit on the edge of the missile’s range.
NTK used the NUKEMAP simulator to estimate these numbers, assuming a ICBM attack would consist of airbursts, limiting radioactive fallout. Here are the updated numbers, with previous estimates for reference.
Los Angeles (Range: 5,900 mi): With the updated kilotonage, Los Angeles would suffer almost 200,000 dead and 500,000 injured. Almost 150 schools and more than 30 hospitals would be destroyed in the blast. Most of these numbers triple from the previous North Korean yield:
In the immediate blast of a hit on downtown Los Angeles, approximately 70,000 people would lose their lives, and 150,000 people would find themselves injured. A total of 38 schools and seven hospitals would be inside the blast zone, originating from the center of the city.
Denver (6,100 mi): A direct 100kt hit on Denver would lead to 115,000 dead and 200,000 injured, more than doubling the previous estimates. Additionally, 150 schools and 70 hospitals would find themselves in the blast zone. Those numbers have shot up from the 10kt simulation:
Denver would suffer around 50,000 fatalities with another 85,000 injured if North Korea was able to hit the center of the city. The blast zone would include one hospital and 32 schools.
Chicago (6,500 mi): A 100kt explosion over Chicago would incur 270,000 dead, with an additional 450,000 injured. Over 200 schools and nearly 30 hospitals would be inside the blast radius. The numbers more than double compared to a 10kt weapon:
A direct ICBM hit on Chicago would likely incur approximately 100,000 immediate fatalities with an additional 200,000 injuries. Around 30 schools and six hospitals would be inside the blast zone.
Boston (6,700 mi): Sitting on the edge of Pyongyang’s missile range, over 260,000 would lose their lives with 420,000 seriously injured if a 100kt nuclear strike hit the downtown area. Hundreds more hospitals and schools would be destroyed compared to a 10kt attack:
If a nuclear-tipped missile could reach downtown Boston, the fatalities could reach upward of 110,000 in addition to 190,000 injuries. The massive campus of Massachusetts General Hospital would be in the blast radius as well as approximately 70 schools.
New York (6,750 mi): New York would suffer the most if North Korea could hit downtown Manhattan with a 100kt weapon. More than 500,000 would die, and 1.3 million would be seriously injured. Hundreds of schools and hospitals would be in the blast zone. Once again, the devastating numbers from a 10kt blast more than double:
A nuclear explosion in Manhattan would cause about 181,000 deaths and over 500,000 injured. If the missile hit Lower Manhattan, about 25 hospitals and 150 schools would be in the blast radius.
The numbers are clear. North Korea has doubled, perhaps even tripled its deadly nuclear potential since August.
The United States is constantly improving its missile defense shield, and recent test interceptions have been successful.
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