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Editor’s note: Written by the best-selling author of “Unfit for Command,” Jerome Corsi, “Atomic Iran,” WND Books’ latest release, presents clear and convincing evidence of Iran’s goal to acquire nuclear weapons and the risk such a scenario poses to the U.S. and the West. In this third and final excerpt from his blockbuster, Corsi presents a hair-raising description of what would happen should terrorists detonate a Tehran-inspired improvised nuclear device in Manhattan. Corsi has dubbed the hypothetical attack Operation IND.
The terrorists’ operational team would calculate the timing of the attack to permit them to enter the city with the least chance of detection and to arrive at the maximum opportunity to kill people. Entering New York City just as morning rush hour is tapering off would allow the terrorists to seek the cover of many vehicles crowding the highways. The police might spot check, but the urgency in most rush hours in New York is to keep traffic moving. Detonating the IND as the lunch hour is beginning gives the greatest chance to have people in the streets. Also, late morning arrivers would be at work by now, so the maximum expected population density for the day should have been achieved.
Detonating the IND in Midtown positions the bomb where the largest number of people would be located, in the many skyscrapers that house the city’s offices. Assume the IND is detonated outside the Empire State Building at 11:45 a.m. Assume that the weapon is a 150-kiloton HEU gun-type bomb. Damage estimates can be scaled down to approximate damage and casualties should the bomb be a lower-yield weapon. Assume the day is the beautiful day that 9-11 was – clear and cool, few clouds in the sky, with a light wind from the east. Assume the population density is uniform, with an average of 125,000 people per square mile. Assume the bomb’s shock wave spreads out evenly, not affected by the structures.
For the terrorists, the mission is a suicide mission. Those driving the truck will remain in place, acting normal, so those inside the truck can trigger the device before anyone becomes suspicious. Remote detonation of the IND, or timed detonation, would be too risky. The way to make sure the device explodes is to stay in place and trigger the detonation locally. All terrorists on the weapons delivery mission are vaporized as the weapon detonates.
1 second after detonation
Within the first second, a shock wave with an overpressure of 20 psi (pounds per square inch) extends four-tenths of a mile from ground zero. This destroys the Empire State Building and all other buildings within that radius, including Madison Square Garden, Penn Station and the New York Public Library. The reinforced steel in the skyscrapers does nothing to support them. Everything within the first four-tenths of a mile from ground zero is reduced to a pile of debris hundreds of feet deep in places. No one in this area survives or even knows what happened to them. The blast kills somewhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people instantly. Those outside in direct line with the blast are vaporized from the heat. Those inside the buildings who survive the blast are killed as the buildings collapse.
A mushroom cloud and fireball expand upward. Instantly, all communications that depend on this area for broadcast stop. National television stations and hundreds of radio channels are instantly off the air. Cell phones throughout the region malfunction. New York City drops off the world communication map. It is not like 9-11, where the rest of the world could switch on their televisions and watch live what was happening.
4 seconds after detonation
The shock wave extends for at least a mile with an overpressure of 10 psi at the periphery of this radius. Out to the edge of this ring, all concrete and steel-reinforced commercial buildings are destroyed or so severely damaged that they begin to collapse. The few buildings at the edge of this ring that remain standing have their interiors destroyed. Many of those within still-standing buildings are protected enough to survive the initial blast but are killed by flying debris. As the shock wave spreads out, an additional 300,000 people are killed and 100,000 more are injured. Almost no one in this ring escapes injury. Those below ground in the subways will escape this first blast with few injuries, though the loss of electricity may shock the cars to a stop. Blocked exits may trap all subway passengers underground indefinitely.
All power in New York City goes out or experiences difficulty. Telephone service stops. There is no radio or television from New York City and no information passing to the outside world about the damage or casualties.
6 seconds after detonation
The shock wave expands to 1.5 miles from ground zero. The pressure at the edge of this ring has dropped to an overpressure of 5 psi, enough force to severely damage steel-reinforced commercial buildings. The damage spreads to Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center and the Queensboro Bridge. Gone are Grand Central Station and the Met Life Building. The Chrysler Building is gone, as are virtually all the name-recognized buildings along Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue that surround what only six seconds ago was the Waldorf Hotel. The thermal pulse kills another 30,000 people who were in direct sight of the blast, including virtually everyone on the street at the time of the blast. Some 500,000 people in this ring are dead. Another 190,000 within buildings are killed by flying debris or are crushed when the buildings collapse. Of those buildings left standing, about 5 percent burst into flames instantly; within 24 hours virtually all buildings that remain standing catch fire. A conflagration begins at city center.
The outside world has virtually no contact with New York City. Panic begins to spread around the country as people watching television or listening to radio begin to realize there is no television or radio available. The first six seconds is too short an interval for government officials in Washington, D.C., to have any real idea what has happened to New York.
10 seconds after detonation
The shock wave expands to a radius of 2.5 miles, but it still carries an impact with an overpressure of 2 psi at the periphery, enough to cause varying amounts of damage to steel-reinforced buildings. An estimated 235,000 additional people die instantly as this ring expands, with an additional 500,000 casualties as the casualty ratio begins to exceed the kill ratio. Those wearing darker clothes are more severely burned from the thermal pulse. Combustible materials instantly burst into flame. Within 24 hours all buildings that remain standing in this radius will begin to burn out of control as all water service has ceased to function.
16 seconds after detonation
The shock wave expands to a radius of 4 miles with an overpressure force of 1 psi at the edge. Steel-reinforced buildings at the periphery suffer relatively little damage, but as far south as Battery Park and the Statue of Liberty the damage is still significant. The impact is being felt across the East River into Queens and across the Hudson River into New Jersey. Buildings north of Central Park are hit by enough force to cause flying debris and severe structural damage. Now the deaths and casualties are spread across 30 square miles. There are many fewer deaths in the ring that stretches from 2.5 miles (the 10-second impact periphery) and 5 miles (the 16-second periphery). An additional 30,000 in this further extension of the blast are severely injured.
Radioactive fallout reaching across into New Jersey will begin within 24 hours to produce mild sickness for virtually everyone who was outside when the IND was detonated and many inside. The initial symptoms will be vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue. Over the next few days as many as 30 percent of the population with a 10-mile range of the blast will begin to die from a combination of burns, infection and radiation damage to tissue, bone and blood cells. The radiation effects will sweep across New Jersey for dozens of miles, with some seriously affected by radiation sickness as far away as 100 miles from ground zero.
1 hour after detonation
By now word has spread throughout the nation and the world, though the news blackout and the effect on television and radio transmission has led to panic and confusion. The president has called out the military, but there is no way to enter New York City. All tunnels and bridges connecting to New York are either gone or so seriously damaged that they are unusable.
New York City has no power, no water, no police, no fire department. No roads in Manhattan within a five-mile radius of the blast are usable. Roads from the southern tip of Manhattan to above Central Park are filled with debris. Fires are burning out of control. Many injured are trapped in buildings and unable to escape.
Very few find exits from the subways, and when they do exit they emerge into a destroyed city of chaos. There is no telephone service in New York and cell phones will not connect for service.
Pandemonium and fear spread rapidly among survivors. Military helicopters hover overhead, trying to ascertain what has happened.
LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark Airports all shut down. All aircraft heading to the New York area would be redirected to land at other destinations. The president would order all aircraft to land as quickly as possible, as the nation’s commercial air traffic system is brought to an orderly and quick halt.
Thousands of families and businesses around the country who are aware of the tragedy will begin scrambling to find information about loved ones and business associates who were scheduled to be in New York City that day.
By the end of the day
More than 1.5 million people are dead in New York City and another 1.5 million severely injured. Fewer than 25 percent of the injured will survive longer than a week. The old will die first, along with the very young. Those survivors who can move around will not know what to do. Looting will break out, as will random acts of violence. Thousands will be trapped in elevators, sealed in what are about to become their tombs. Those not at home will be unable to communicate with loved ones, to find out what has happened to husbands, wives and children. For all but a few there will be no words said of “Goodbye” or “I love you.”
Soon those who can emerge above the rubble will realize they are on an island with no escape. The Hudson and the East rivers are too strong to swim across. Who will come to rescue when the radiation will kill all who enter the devastation without protective clothes? The survivors will be homeless, mostly without food or water. There are no hospitals for the injured, and even if there were, there is no way to transport the injured to medical treatment. Darkness and the cold of night will descend with no apparent answers available to anyone.
Disaster recovery will be nonexistent in the first 24 hours as officials in the state government in Albany and the federal government in Washington realize they cannot get relief and rescue resources into Manhattan as the city begins to burn out of control.
Across America, the nation will come to a stunned standstill of shock and disbelief. Public officials all over the land will call for all police and fire departments to report for duty. Pleas will go out nationwide for National Guard and military assistance to maintain calm and prevent rioting or looting. No one knows for sure what needs to be done, or if there will be another attack.
In the span of less than one hour, the nation’s largest city will have been virtually wiped off the map. Removal of debris will take several years, and recovery may never fully happen. The damage to the nation’s economy will be measured in the trillions of dollars, and the loss of the country’s major financial and business center may reduce America immediately to a second-class status. The resulting psychological impact will bring paralysis throughout the land for an indefinite period of time. The president may not be able to communicate with the nation for days, even weeks, as television and radio systems struggle to come back on line.
No natural or man-made disaster in history will compare with the magnitude of damage that has been done to New York City in this one horrible day.
The United States retaliates: ‘End of the world’ scenarios
The combination of horror and outrage that will surge upon the nation will demand that the president retaliate for the incomprehensible damage done by the attack. The problem will be that the president will not immediately know how to respond or against whom.
The perpetrators will have been incinerated by the explosion that destroyed New York City. Unlike 9-11, there will have been no interval during the attack when those hijacked could make phone calls to loved ones telling them before they died that the hijackers were radical Islamic extremists.
There will be no such phone calls when the attack will not have been anticipated until the instant the terrorists detonate their improvised nuclear device inside the truck parked on a curb at the Empire State Building. Nor will there be any possibility of finding any clues, which either were vaporized instantly or are now lying physically inaccessible under tons of radioactive rubble.
Still, the president, members of Congress, the military, and the public at large will suspect another attack by our known enemy – Islamic terrorists. The first impulse will be to launch a nuclear strike on Mecca, to destroy the whole religion of Islam. Medina could possibly be added to the target list just to make the point with crystal clarity. Yet what would we gain? The moment Mecca and Medina were wiped off the map, the Islamic world – more than 1 billion human beings in countless different nations – would feel attacked. Nothing would emerge intact after a war between the United States and Islam. The apocalypse would be upon us.
Then, too, we would face an immediate threat from our long-term enemy, the former Soviet Union. Many in the Kremlin would see this as an opportunity to grasp the victory that had been snatched from them by Ronald Reagan when the Berlin Wall came down. A missile strike by the Russians on a score of American cities could possibly be pre-emptive. Would the U.S. strategic defense system be so in shock that immediate retaliation would not be possible? Hardliners in Moscow might argue that there was never a better opportunity to destroy America.
In China, our newer Communist enemies might not care if we could retaliate. With a population already over 1.3 billion people and with their population not concentrated in a few major cities, the Chinese might calculate to initiate a nuclear blow on the United States. What if the United States retaliated with a nuclear counterattack upon China? The Chinese might be able to absorb the blow and recover.
The North Koreans might calculate even more recklessly. Why not launch upon America the few missiles they have that could reach our soil? More confusion and chaos might only advance their position. If Russia, China, and the United States could be drawn into attacking one another, North Korea might emerge stronger just because it was overlooked while the great nations focus on attacking one another.
So, too, our supposed allies in Europe might relish the immediate reduction in power suddenly inflicted upon America. Many of the great egos in Europe have never fully recovered from the disgrace of World War II, when in the last century the Americans a second time in just over two decades had been forced to come to their rescue. If the French did not start launching nuclear weapons themselves, they might be happy to fan the diplomatic fire beginning to burn under the Russians and the Chinese.
Or the president might decide simply to launch a limited nuclear strike on Tehran itself. This might be the most rational option in the attempt to retaliate but still communicate restraint. The problem is that a strike on Tehran would add more nuclear devastation to the world calculation. Muslims around the world would still see the retaliation as an attack on Islam, especially when the United States had no positive proof that the destruction of New York City had been triggered by radical Islamic extremists with assistance from Iran.
But for the president not to retaliate might be unacceptable to the American people. So weakened by the loss of New York, Americans would feel vulnerable in every city in the nation. “Who is going to be next?” would be the question on everyone’s mind. For this there would be no effective answer. That the president might think politically at this instant seems almost petty, yet every president is by nature a politician. The political party in power at the time of the attack would be destroyed unless the president retaliated with a nuclear strike against somebody. The American people would feel a price had to be paid while the country was still capable of exacting revenge.
None of these scenarios bodes anything but more disaster. The point is simple: America cannot tolerate the risk that some insane group of radical Islamic terrorists might want to buy their way into heaven by exploding a nuclear device in the heart of New York City. The consequences are too devastating to imagine, let alone experience. As a nation we must realize that this type of attack can happen. It may only be a matter of time, unless we act right now. We must not permit the mad mullahs to have a nuclear capability they can turn clandestinely into a nuclear weapon to use in attacking America. That we might believe we can solve the problem diplomatically is exactly the conclusion the mullahs are praying we will come to.
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