Russia’s nuclear threat: Would radiation reach the UK if Putin presses red button?

Europeans panic-buy iodine tablets as risk of nuclear war grows

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Last week, Putin ordered the Russian military to “transfer the deterrence forces” to a mode of special combat duty. Experts have interpreted this command as a threat of a nuclear assault. According to Pavel Podvig, an expert on Russian nuclear forces, Putin’s order likely means “the nuclear command and control system received what is known as a preliminary command”.

Experts have widely described the event of nuclear war as very unlikely, due to the mass costs for all involved.

However last week, Europeans sounded the alarm bells when Russian shells started a fire in the Zaporizhzhia power plant, which is the largest nuclear reactor on the continent.

Fortunately, the fire was brought under control and experts reassured that no radiation had leaked through.

Given the constant threat of nuclear war, the Mirror has looked at how far radiation would reach if Putin were to press the red button?

How powerful are nuclear weapons?

A big nuclear weapon has the power to wipe out an entire city.

When detonated, nuclear bombs produced a flash of light and large fireball which can vaporise everything caught in it.

The power of the blast carries all items around it – including soil and water – upwards, creating a mushroom cloud of smoke.

Radioactive materials in the bomb mix with the mushroom cloud to form dust particles, which then fall back to earth and are referred to as ‘fallout’.

This fallout can be carried by the wind, reaching hundreds of miles away from the initial explosion and contaminating anything it lands on.

Fallout can circulate around the world for years until it gradually falls back down to Earth, and can land hundreds of miles away from ground zero, which is the point directly above or below the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

How far can nuclear radiation travel – how much damage does it cause?

The immediate blast from a nuke would destroy everything within a kilometre in all directions

How far the effects of a nuclear bomb explosion travels depends on the size of the bomb and its blast yield.

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Currently, the blast yield of the most powerful nuclear bomb has been recorded as 1,200 kilotons, meaning the spread and the impact would be severe.

While the immediate blast would destroy everything within a kilometre in all directions.

Those up to eight kilometres outside of it could suffer third-degree burns, and those up to 11 kilometres away may experience second- and first-degree burns.

Anyone up to 85 kilometres away could experience temporary blindness or severe burns to the retina if looking directly at the blast.

Besides the heat from the blast, another thing to deal with would be the high levels of radiation due to the nuclear fallout, which can damage the body’s cells and lead to severe and long-term illness – and eventually death.

The radioactive particles from nuclear weapons can travel very far and last for a very long time.

A recent study even found remnants of radioactive carbon from Cold War nuclear bomb tests in the deepest point of the world’s oceans.

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