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Atomic bunkers can’t protect you against new nukes – even 2km deep inside Earth

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China says that atomic bunkers don’t make sense anymore because of a new type of nuclear weapon that can go through the earth and destroy things without any way to fix them.

Atomic bunkers are useless in the face of Chinese, Russian or American tactical nuclear bombs, like the ones Russia threatened to use in Ukraine. On the contrary: these underground structures can be a death trap for those who take refuge in them while the population on the surface can survive.

These are the results of new experiments carried out by Chinese scientists, who have built a new research laboratory to simulate nuclear attacks against atomic bunkers such as those at Cheyenne Mountain Space Force Station, the famous underground complex located under 610 meters of granite, popularized by the movie War Games in the 80’s.

Obviously, bunker or no bunker, global nuclear war would annihilate humanity. Tactical nuclear weapons, particularly those designed to penetrate the earth, are intended for limited usage, eliminating specific targets without generating the same level of radioactive pollution or collateral damage as a conventional nuclear bomb.

The latter are meant to detonate many meters below the surface of the earth, delivering as much damage as possible over a vast area. The first are those that Russia has threatened to carry out if NATO intervenes in Ukraine directly.

Destruction Amplification

The new study — peer-reviewed in the Chinese Scientific Journal of Rock Mechanics and Engineering — confirms an earlier study that used supercomputer simulations, finding that atomic bunkers offer no protection and, in fact, their location makes them more vulnerable thanks to to the nature of the subsoil.

According to the Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post, the study shows that a bunker two kilometers underground can be easily destroyed by penetrating nuclear weapons. The key lies in how the shock waves are transmitted through the Earth’s crust. Although tactical nuclear warheads designed to penetrate the ground cannot go deeper than 40 meters, the nuclear explosion would initiate a reaction that would release up to 1,000 times more energy than that produced by the atomic explosion itself.

Their observations, they say, show that shock waves change shape and increase in power as they travel through the subsurface. This goes against the current theory, which says that the energy of shock waves is absorbed by the ground as they travel. This concept is based on the idea that the crust behaves more or less like a liquid that absorbs energy, but in reality, the difference between types of rocks and other materials in the subsurface acts as an amplifier of the destructive power of the explosion. nuclear. According to the study, the destructive energy would reach “further”, affecting bunkers far from the direct radius of action of the nuclear explosion.

No one is safe

Ultimately, none of the alleged nuclear-proof underground structures could withstand a combined attack from several low-power tactical weapons. Like the US with Cheyenne Mountain, the Russians have their own bunker buried in the Urals and the Chinese in caves two kilometers deep west of Beijing. 

Precisely, the Chinese study affirms that the latter would receive an additional pressure of 600 kilograms per square centimeter from the explosion of the penetrating version of an American B61 nuclear bomb with a power of 200 kilotons (the B61 has a variable power that can go 0.3 to 400 kilotons depending on configuration). This is enough to destroy the military center of the Asian power.

Not coincidentally, both Russia and the United States have airborne nuclear control centers — so-called ‘doomsday planes’ — to ensure their ability to respond should their ground-based facilities be disabled.

Disarm impossible

recent report by Allied Market Research states that the nuclear weapons market will increase to more than 126 billion dollars by 2030, a growth of 73% compared to 2020. The United States has proposed a new nuclear disarmament treaty to Russia and China. Unfortunately, Putin has put all his capital into the creation of even more destructive and unstoppable nuclear weapons that circumvent the disarmament treaties that were already signed and unbalance the balance of power.

China has not only refused to negotiate any agreement — arguing that it is now in a disadvantageous position with Russia and the United States — but has also plunged headlong into a runaway nuclear escalation both in terms of the number of nuclear warheads and the type of weapons (such as illustrate their new hypersonic atomic gliders ).

Naturally, in the face of these escalations, the United States says it has no choice but to maintain and diversify its arsenal (it is also hastily working on its own hypersonic vehicles ).

After years in which it seemed that we could overcome the danger of nuclear war after the fall of the communist dictatorship of the Soviet Union, it seems that now we are even worse, with more nuclear production and unpredictable actors like Putin. The Russian and Chinese autocrats would do well to read the study which shows that they, too, will be doomed no matter how deep their rabbit holes are.

Image Credit: Getty

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