What would happen to the UK if Nuclear Weapons were launched? The impact of a nuclear attack on the UK depends on the size of the “yield”, the number of weapons used and the location of detonation. However, any attack would be “pretty terrible.” In fact, the two nuclear bombs used in the Second World War weighed between 15 and 20 kilotons each, causing the deaths and injuries of 200,000 people. Most Russian warheads weigh a hundred to five hundred kilograms (kt). Compared to this, Hiroshima and Nagasaki would be a mere blip on the radar screen.
The damage caused by nuclear attack on the UK would be enormous. If a Russian nuke was launched on the UK, the explosion would cover a radius of 380 meters. It would destroy all the buildings and kill most of the people inside the orange and green zones. Then, in the next ring, most of the buildings would collapse, wiping out the City of London, Westminster, Mayfair, and Elephant and Castle.
In 1984, the US government established the Strategic Defense Initiative. At the time, the US and Soviet Union were still engaged in a Cold War. According to security experts, there is a “very good chance” that nuclear missiles will be intercepted over the UK. However, the UK government may also use Type 45 destroyer vessels to intercept the incoming missiles. These are all steps towards preventing a nuclear war.
The United Kingdom has no conventional missiles, but it still maintains nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes. Its nuclear forces are entirely sea-based. The Vanguard-class SSBNs, which hold eight Trident II SLBMs with an estimated range of 7,400 kilometers, have been in service since 1969. By the 2030s, four new submarines will replace these, with a minimum service life of 30 years and a maximum of twelve nuclear warheads.
Russia currently holds 977 strategic warheads and 1,912 nonstrategic warheads. The exact number of these weapons is unknown, owing to the secrecy surrounding security concerns. ICBMs have been shown to be capable of reaching the UK within 20 minutes of launch. The UK would be hit by a nuclear attack from Russia’s arsenal. This would be devastating. And it would be a disaster on the scale of the second World War.
Today’s nuclear weapons are lighter and smaller than in the past. However, their explosive power is still higher. According to Stephen Herzog, researcher at the ETH Zurich Center for Security Studies, some Russian nuclear weapons are 50 times more powerful than Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The consequences of this are unimaginable. So, how would the UK respond? And should the UK be invaded? Only time will tell.
If Russia were to attack the Ukraine, the UK might not be able to protect itself. However, if NATO was to strike, the Russian army could use tactical nuclear weapons to attack strategic points in Ukraine, and send a strong message to the Ukrainian government. These weapons can be mounted on existing missiles in the conflict. They could also be used to launch long-range attacks against the US. This could be catastrophic for the UK.
The Russian president Vladimir Putin has already made threats about deploying nuclear weapons against the western countries. During the 2014 invasion of Crimea, Russian leaders spoke openly about putting their nuclear arsenals on alert. They like to display their arsenals and remind others of their greatness. If Western countries intervene in Ukraine, they will most certainly respond with their nuclear weapons. This would be unprecedented in history. So what are the consequences?