Simulated Nuclear Exchange Between the US and China

The analysis [Federation of American Scientist] of the numbers, characteristics and deployment of the strategic nuclear forces of China and the United States presented in this study raises the question of what would be the consequences if these forces were ever used. A nuclear exchange between the United States and China is clearly a remote
possibility – a situation would have to arise that exceeded any crisis of the Cold War.

The consequences of two nuclear strike scenarios are analyzed:
1. An attack by U.S. submarine-launched ballistic missiles on China’s long-range ICBMs (DF-5A/CSS-4 Mod 2)

2. A strike by Chinese forces on cities in the continental United States

The United States has in excess of 2,000 warheads capable of hitting China on short notice. A smallp ercentage of the U.S. arsenal could be targeted against all Chinese strategic nuclear systems, Command and Control (C2) sites and major conventional military assets. Although not thought to be part of the current U.S. war plans, an even smaller percentage of the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal could be targeted against Chinese cities to cause massive civilian and industrial damage.

China deploys an estimated 20 ICBMs capable of targeting U.S. cities. In the future, the U.S. National Missile Defense system may undermine China’s nuclear deterrent against the United States.

We utilized a combination of Geographical Information System (GIS) software, including GoogleEarth and the U.S. government computer code, Hazard Prediction Assessment Capability (HPAC versions 3.2.1 and 4.04). Scenarios that can be simulated using HPAC include the use of a radiological, biological, chemical or nuclear weapon, accidents involving such weapons, and accidental releases at WMD facilities. For this study we utilized the component models of HPAC that calculate the effects of nuclear explosions and are based on legacy code developed during the Cold War. Casualties are calculated in HPAC using the LandScan world population database developed by the U.S. Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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