Conclusion 2. Nuclear earth-penetrator weapons (EPWs) with a depth of penetration of 3 meters capture most of the advantage associated with the coupling of ground shock. While additional depth of penetration increases ground-shock coupling, it also increases the uncertainty of EPW survival. To hold at risk hard and deeply buried targets, the nuclear yield must be increased with increasing depth of the target. The calculated limit for holding hard and deeply buried targets at risk of destruction with high probability using a nuclear EPW is approximately 200 meters for a 300 kiloton weapon and 300 meters for a 1 megaton weapon.
Conclusion 3. Current experience and empirical predictions indicate that earth-penetrator weapons cannot penetrate to depths required for total containment of the effects of a nuclear explosion.
Conclusion 4. For the same yield and weather conditions, the number of casualties from an earth-penetrator weapon detonated at a few meters depth is, for all practical purposes, equal to that from a surface burst of the same weapon yield. Any reduction in casualties due to the use of an EPW is attributable primarily to the reduction in yield made possible by the greater ground shock produced by buried bursts.
Conclusion 5. The yield required of a nuclear weapon to destroy a hard and deeply buried target is reduced by a factor of 15 to 25 by enhanced ground-shock coupling if the weapon is detonated a few meters below the surface.
Conclusion 6. For attacks near or in densely populated urban areas using nuclear earth-penetrator weapons on hard and deeply buried targets (HDBTs), the number of casualties can range from thousands to more than a million, depending primarily on weapon yield. For attacks on HDBTs in remote, lightly populated areas, casualties can range from as few as hundreds at low weapon yields to hundreds of thousands at high yields and with unfavorable winds.
Conclusion 7. For urban targets, civilian casualties from a nuclear earth-penetrator weapon are reduced by a factor of 2 to 10 compared with those from a surface burst having 25 times the yield.
Conclusion 8. In an attack on a chemical or biological weapons facility, the explosive power of conventional weapons is not likely to be effective in destroying the agent. However, the BLU-118B thermobaric bomb, if detonated within the chamber, may be able to destroy the agent. An attack by a nuclear weapon would be effective in destroying the agent only if detonated in the chamber where agents are stored.
Conclusion 9. In an attack with a nuclear weapon on a chemical weapons facility, civilian deaths from the effects of the nuclear weapon itself are likely to be much greater than civilian deaths from dispersal of the chemical agents. In contrast, if the target is a biological weapons facility, release of as little as 0.1 kilogram of anthrax spores will result in a calculated number of fatalities that is comparable on average to the number calculated for a 3 kiloton nuclear earth-penetrator weapon.
Additional conclusions are presented in Chapter 9 of this report.
The committee notes that although some scenarios show substantial nuclear-radiation-induced fatalities, military operational guidance is to attack targets in ways to minimize collateral effects. Calculated numbers of fatalities to be expected from an attack on an HDBT might be reduced by