Although they originated in the 1950s to attack military targets on the battlefield, strategic nuclear weapons have not yet been used in an armed conflict, but once again they were put on the table following what was done today by the Russian president.
Vladimir Putin has announced an agreement with his Belarusian counterpart, Aleksander Lukashenko, to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus, a country that shares a border with Ukraine. Putin confirmed in a statement on Russian public television that he would not violate the existing treaty.
Military nuclear weapons (ANT) are small, short-range warheads that are used against enemy targets in the battlefield and one of their main characteristics is that they are used in low- or medium-scale operations, without the need for large returns. This property is what distinguishes it from the long-range “strategic” nuclear weapons that, during the so-called Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union announced.
How much is that?
It can be as small as one kiloton or less (equivalent to a thousand tons of explosive TNT). But there are larger ones that can reach 100 kilotons. For reference, the bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were fifteen and twenty one kilograms respectively. In addition, the radioactive release from nuclear weapons can vary according to the altitude at which they are released, the topology of the site from which they are detonated, or meteorological factors such as wind.
How long do they take to fire?
Military weapons require more time to use when they are stored in silos and then have to be installed on firing planes. In order to use them, the infrastructure must be moved and it must be done in advance. This fact is probably detected by the secret services of other countries.
What is its explosive power?
Tactical nuclear weapons have a lower explosive power than traditional ones. They can be attached to different types of missiles normally used to drop conventional bombs. While traditional nuclear weapons—land-based or submarine-launched ICBMs—are often intended to attack strategic targets from afar, such as nuclear facilities and industrial centers or population centers.
How many nuclear forces do they have?
Of the nine nuclear powers, Russia and the United States lead in the possession of military nuclear weapons. According to US intelligence, Russia has several thousand strategic nuclear weapons. Washington has more than 200, some 150 could be stored in Europe after its arsenal was reduced in 1967 in the United States.