June 4, 2002 | WebMemo on National Security and Defense
Millions of Americans are learning more than ever before about the terrible consequences of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, thanks to an incredibly sophisticated computer model made available to journalists by The Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy.
As a result, in recent days viewers of Fox News, CNN and ABC's This Week saw incredibly detailed graphic depictions of the deaths and destruction caused by nuclear strikes against such cities as Pakistan's capitol, Islamabad, and India's capitol, New Delhi.
Readers of The Washington Times saw similar graphics in a
front-page story last week, and a host of other major newspapers
are also preparing stories using the computer model.
The computer model made available to journalists by the Media Center is a version of the Consequences Assessment Tool Set (CATS) system used by the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
Possible Nuclear Conflict Scenarios:
Pakistan Uses A Nuclear Device on Attacking Indian Army
India and Pakistan Trade Attacks on Border
India Attacks Pakistani Capital
Pakistan Attacks Indian Capital
The Pentagon agency uses CATS to assess the likely harm that would be done by a nuclear, chemical or biological attack on any point on the globe, including deaths and injuries, commercial and residential property damage and environmental effects. Besides population and property impacts, CATS considers real-time weather conditions and a host of additional factors in its projections.
Besides modeling nuclear strikes, CATS can simulate biological attacks using agents like anthrax and chemical agents such as Sarin gas that was used in the Tokyo subway attack several years ago. The software can also be used to model natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.
The Times report, Scenario of Nuke Strikes Weighed,
Factoring in weather conditions, the size and type of the nuclear missile used, the population at the target site, and the delivery method employed, the software produces detailed tallies of the likely casualties at ground zero, as well as the projected damage from nuclear fallout.
For the United States, the CATS analysis can give a virtual block-by-block assessment of a nuclear, chemical or biological warfare attack, including strategic sites and public infrastructure likely to be destroyed or disabled.
Among the scenarios used by the ABC program were strikes aimed at ground troops; tit-for-tat targeting of cities; with a progression up to capital (highly-populated) cities; and then an all-out nuclear exchange in which both sides use all of their weapons.
Similarly, CNN used the CATS scenario to report the
Computer modeling done by The Heritage Foundation shows that if India hit the Pakistani capital of Islamabad with its largest nuclear device, a 43-kiloton bomb, the initial blast would kill 107,000 people and extend two miles. Fallout would be lethal for about 3.3 miles from ground zero. Of course a Pakistani nuclear strike on New Delhi would cause similar devastation and inevitably the death toll would grow as tens of thousands more died of radiation poisoning, disease and starvation in the weeks and months after.