Swiss Expert: When Russian Use of Tactical Nuclear Bomb in Ukraine Makes No Sense

There has been much hype in the media about the probability of Russia using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. One assumption is that rather than resorting to a strategic nuclear bomb, the Kremlin could opt for deployment of a small tactical weapon on the battlefield. Walter Rüegg, a former chief physicist of the Swiss Army, was asked to weigh in on the issue in an interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Oct. 12). For him, from a military standpoint, it makes no sense for Russia to launch such a weapon. Most Russian “small” nuclear bombs (1 to 100 kilotons) are hydrogen weapons, whose “heat wave can reach a distance of maybe one to two kilometers, the blast wave a similar distance, with the primary radiation it’s maybe 800 meters if you’re protected to some extent.”

But in Ukraine today, the front is very long. “Modern tanks are reasonably protected. A small tactical bomb would have to be detonated a few hundred yards from a tank to knock it out. But the weapons will be taken out of the depots in advance, and intelligence agencies would detect this – and this will then trigger an advance warning. As a result, you avoid concentrations of infantry or tanks.”

Dr. Rüegg, however, does not rule out a deterrent action, such as detonating a slightly larger hydrogen bomb over the Black Sea, for example, “as a warning shot. That would have a purely psychological effect—as a deterrent. The use of tactical nuclear weapons does not help much on the battlefield.”

Dr. Rüegg wrote a highly informative article on radioactivity, which was published in 2017 in EIR’s scientific magazine Fusion.

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