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What a Nuclear Attack Would Do to the World’s Major Cities

According to a recent estimate from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a major weapons and conflict watchdog, the world’s nuclear arsenal will rise for the first time since the Cold War in the coming years.

While the United States and Russia have more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, China is building more than 300 silos to increase its nuclear arsenal.

The amount of nuclear weapons in the world is estimated to be in the billions. As of early 2022, the Federation of American Scientists calculated that there were approximately 12,700 weapons, including more than 3,000 decommissioned warheads.

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The RDS-220, or Tsar Bomba, a 50 megaton hydrogen bomb developed by the Soviet Union, was the greatest nuclear explosion ever detonated. On Oct. 30, 1961, a test explosion occurred above an Arctic Ocean island. The bombs unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, by comparison, had a combined yield of around 40 kilotons. The death toll from those bombings is estimated to be between 110,000 and 210,000 persons, according to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.

24/7 Wall St. used Nukemap, a website that simulates nuclear detonation, to see what a nuclear attack would do to 23 world capitals. We chose two average warhead yields, 100 kilotons and 800 kilotons of TNT, to be detonated in the air over these cities. The countries are listed in alphabetical order. Pretoria, the executive branch’s seat, has been chosen for South Africa.

The thermonuclear weapons of today are far more potent than the ones employed during World War II. A 100 kiloton bomb dropped on Capitol Hill would instantly kill 177,650 people and injure more than 383,210, putting 21 percent of the population of Washington, D.C. in danger. A bomb having an explosive yield of 800 kilotons would kill or injure 1.3 million people, with roughly half of the population being within explosion range.

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A nuclear bomb with a yield of 100 kilotons detonated above the Kremlin would kill over 250,000 people in the much bigger Russian capital of Moscow. More than 1 million people would be killed and another 2.3 million injured if an 800 kiloton bomb was detonated.

A nuclear bomb with a yield of 100 kilotons detonated above the Kremlin would kill over 250,000 people in the much bigger Russian capital of Moscow. More than 1 million people would be killed and another 2.3 million injured if an 800 kiloton bomb was detonated.

In heavily populated cities, the number of victims would be significantly higher. An 800 kiloton thermonuclear weapon dropped on Beijing, China’s capital, would kill about 1.3 million people and injure over 3 million more. And a bomb like this dropped on New Delhi, India’s capital, would instantaneously kill 2.1 million people and injure 5.8 million more.

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