Russia released new video of a devastating undersea nuclear weapon it says it is developing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said Russia is developing weapons more powerful than what’s in the possession of any other nation.
In March, Putin said Russia is developing an unmanned submersible vehicle, powered by “an innovative nuclear power unit” 100 times smaller than existing submarine reactors, but far more powerful.
The Russian unmanned submarine could move at “extreme depths, intercontinentally, at a speed multiple times higher than the speed of submarines, cutting-edge torpedoes and all kinds of surface vessels, including some of the fastest,” Putin said.
Putin said the underwater drones “are quiet, highly maneuverable and have hardly any vulnerabilities for the enemy to exploit. There is simply nothing in the world capable of withstanding them.”
Russia has been releasing drawings of such a weapon for years. In a 2015 piece in Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear policy at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, called such a weapon “Putin’s doomsday machine.”
An underwater bomb could cause a vast tsunami.
“A well-placed nuclear weapon of yield in the range 20 MT to 50 MT near a sea coast could certainly couple enough energy to equal the 2011 tsunami, and perhaps much more,” said physicist Rex Richardson, referring to the disasters in Japan that year that left 15,000 people dead. He said waves hitting 330 feet high “are possible.”
A blast near shore would also spread fallout from underwater debris.
“Los Angeles or San Diego would be particularly vulnerable to fallout due to the prevailing onshore winds,” Richardson said.
Not everyone is a believer.
Greg Spriggs, a nuclear-weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, said that even if a nuke could create a tsunami, it could not match the power of a naturally occurring one.
“So any tsunami created by a nuclear weapon couldn’t be very large,” he said, saying that the energy released in the 2011 tsunami was far larger than any nuclear bomb known to man.
He said a 50-megaton bomb could do damage, but putting it underwater would reduce the devastation, not amplify it.
“This would produce a fraction of the damage the same 50 MT weapon could do if it were detonated above a large city,” Spriggs said. “If there is some country out there that is angry enough at the United States to use a nuclear weapon against us, why would they opt to reduce the amount of damage they impose in an attack?”
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