Effectiveness of Nuclear Weapons against Buried Biological Agents

Michael May, Zachary Haldeman, "Effectiveness of Nuclear Weapons against Buried Biological Agents," Science & Global Security, 12, no. 1-2, (2004): 91-113.
This report describes the results of some calculations on the effectiveness of penetrating nuclear weapons of yield 1 and 10 kilotons against targets containing biological agents. The effectiveness depends in detail on the construction of the bunkers, on how the bioagents are stored, on the location of the explosions with respect to the bunkers, the bioagent containers and the surface of the ground, and on the yield of the explosion and the geology of the explosion site. Completeness of sterilization of the bioagents is crucial in determining effectiveness. For most likely cases, however, complete sterilization cannot be guaranteed. Better calculations and experiments on specific target types would improve the accuracy of such predictions for those targets, but significant uncertainties would remain regarding actual geology, actual target layouts, and the position of the explosion with respect to the target. Based on preliminary calculations, casualties from the aboveground effects of underground nuclear explosions would be fewer than the casualties that would result from the dispersal of large quantities of bioagents.

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