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Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons

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Underground facilities are used extensively by many nations to conceal and protect strategic military functions and weapons' stockpiles. Because of their depth and hardened status, however, many of these strategic hard and deeply buried targets could only be put at risk by conventional or nuclear earth penetrating weapons (EPW). Recently, an engineering feasibility study, the robust nuclear earth penetrator program, was started by DOE and DOD to determine if a more effective EPW could be designed using major components of existing nuclear weapons. This activity has created some controversy about, among other things, the level of collateral damage that would ensue if such a weapon were used. To help clarify this issue, the Congress, in P.L. 107-314, directed the Secretary of Defense to request from the NRC a study of the anticipated health and environmental effects of nuclear earth-penetrators and other weapons and the effect of both conventional and nuclear weapons against the storage of biological and chemical weapons. This report provides the results of those analyses. Based on detailed numerical calculations, the report presents a series of findings comparing the effectiveness and expected collateral damage of nuclear EPW and surface nuclear weapons under a variety of conditions.

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Suggested Citation

National Research Council. 2005. Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11282.

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Publication Info

146 pages | 8.5 x 11
ISBNs:
  • Paperback: 978-0-309-09673-7
  • Ebook: 978-0-309-18146-4
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17226/11282
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