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Swiss Nuclear Weapons Specialist Argues, Russian Tactical Nuclear Bombing in Ukraine Makes No Sense

Oct. 14, 2022 (EIRNS)—Walter Rüegg, former chief physicist of the Swiss Army, ( in German) said that for Russia it makes militarily no sense to launch tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine, in an interview published on Oct. 22 with the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.  Most Russian “small” nuclear bombs (1 to 100 kilotons) are hydrogen weapons, i.e. with practically zero radioactivity fallout, Rüegg says.

“With a small weapon, the heat wave can reach a distance of maybe one to two kilometers, the blast wave a similar distance, with the primary radiation it’s maybe 800 meters if you’re protected to some extent. The weapons are well suited for use in the battlefield. But the front is very long. Militarily, it makes no sense today to use tactical nuclear weapons. The modern tanks are reasonably protected. A small tactical bomb would have to be detonated a few hundred yards from a tank to knock it out. But the weapons will be taken out of the depots in advance, the intelligence agencies would detect this—that will then trigger an advance warning. As a result, you avoid concentrations of infantry or tanks.”

Rüegg, however, does not rule out a deterrent action. “For example, a slightly larger hydrogen bomb could be detonated over the Black Sea as a warning shot. That would have a purely psychological effect—as a deterrent. The use of tactical nuclear weapons does not help much on the battlefield.”

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