Professor David Alexander says preparing for a nuclear disaster is “totally futile” and the correct response to an attack is “to wait until the end”. He also said the tactical nuclear weapons used in Ukraine would likely damage other parts of Europe with radioactive fallout. Dr Alexander works at the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction at University College London.

He said: “The correct response to a nuclear weapons exchange is to get a bottle of whiskey and a padlock and chain. Chain yourself to the railings, drink the whiskey and wait for the end.

“More seriously, during the Cold War, much thought, effort and expense went into planning for the aftermath of a thermonuclear exchange.

“In my opinion, the preparations have been entirely in vain. Even if a limited number of people could shelter in a deep bunker, what would they do when they discovered that the food chain and most other life support systems had broken down beyond repair?

After the fall of the Soviet Union, these limited bunkers became largely disused and nothing functional replaced them, meaning that even the lucky few who could have accessed the bunkers during the Cold War might not be able to if the Russia was ordering a nuclear strike today.

Dr Alexander also claimed that the limited use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine would pose a danger to the rest of Europe.

He said: The direct effect on the rest of Europe would depend on the prevailing winds at the time. Due to prevailing atmospheric circulation patterns, Italy and the Balkans would be particularly exposed to wind-blown radioactive fallout.

The use of tactical nuclear weapons would be a gamble for Russia, as NATO’s reaction could be unpredictable for the Kremlin.

He said: “No one outside the organization knows how NATO would react to such an eventuality.”

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Professor Alexander noted that the use of nuclear weapons would result in catastrophic destruction and that the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) was alive and well.

He said: “It may cross the minds of those in the Kremlin that there is probably no limited nuclear war these days. Therefore, a major nuclear strike is automatically doomed.

The risk of nuclear catastrophe is not limited to a nuclear exchange. As Russia moves troops and fires artillery into areas surrounding nuclear power plants, fears of another Chernobyl-like disaster arise.

Dr Alexander said: “We have to hope that Russia’s indiscriminate bombing will not cause another Chernobyl, which could be the case if a bomb directly hit one of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.”

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has used increasingly hostile rhetoric and thinly veiled threats to the West over Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which is the largest in the world.

There are fears that with Russia suffering higher losses for fewer gains in Ukraine, Putin sees the use of tactical nuclear weapons as the only way to change the situation on the ground.

According to Dr. Alexander, a NATO general estimated a 20% chance that nuclear weapons would be used in the conflict.

He added: “Whether a first strike would lead to a total nuclear exchange, I just don’t know. I recently had dinner with a Hiroshima bomb survivor.

“It was a sobering experience. He dedicated his long life to campaigning for nuclear peace. Never have his services been more needed.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-14 11:00:00


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