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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

"Big Bang Project" explores nuclear threat

– With the support of the U.S. Department of Defense, a University of California, Berkeley, team working with staff members of Science Applications International Corporation and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has imagined the unimaginable - a 10-kiloton nuclear explosion in Moscow in 2009, and a detailed thousand-day aftermath.

The report, the first of its kind by a U.S. civilian team, shows how the results of such an attack could be worse that the assault itself:

  • Almost 150,000 people would die instantly and between 50,000 to 100,000 more will die within hours;
  • Moscow would be in ruins for years;
  • There could be worldwide panic and evacuations of major cities;
  • Terrorists, hate groups and millennial visionaries would exploit the event;
  • Global markets could collapse.
Former U.S. Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense Harold Smith, also a distinguished visiting scholar and professor at UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, developed the "Big Bang Project." His co-principal investigator is Steven Weber, a UC Berkeley professor of political science and director of UC Berkeley's Institute of International Studies.

In conclusion, the researchers recommend 13 steps the U.S. can take to minimize the damage to national security of such a nuclear event, which experts give a 50 percent chance of occurring in the next five to 10 years.

Their report is the subject of the lead story by writer Mark Dowie in the latest issue of UC Berkeley's "California Monthly" magazine, released today (Monday, Aug. 22).

"California Monthly's" banner story can be found online on the magazine's website.

The magazine focuses on issues facing California and the Pacific Rim that are being brought to light by research and ideas generated at UC Berkeley and is recruiting the best writers in the state to report on these issues. Under new editorial leadership, Cal Monthly also will inaugurate a new design in January 2006. The California Alumni Association has published Cal Monthly for more than 100 years.