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In my world, the United States, Soviet Union, European Union, and Populated sections of Asia are all involved in a nuclear war. Their are about 32,000 warheads fired, an in total, 3,000 megatons of nukes are used during the war. My question is: How long would a nuclear war likely last?

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closed as too broad by Mołot, Secespitus, DT Cooper, Renan, L.Dutch Jun 12 '18 at 15:22

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    $\begingroup$ I think predicting the duration of a war is impossible. Do you think the US would've entered Vietnam or Afghanistan if they thought it would've taken them that long? WW1 wouldn't have happened like that either. I think the answer is something between a second and a million years. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 12 '18 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ As long as it takes them to fire every single nuke in their arsenal. After that point, it's just a regular war except everything's irradiated. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Jun 12 '18 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ Between 5 minutes and 50 years, I guess? $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jun 12 '18 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ a nuke detonation happens in microseconds... then it's "just" shockwave propagation... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch Jun 12 '18 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ As an oversimplified approximation, 3,000,000 kt / 32,000 = 93kt. Go over to nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap and try to place 32,000 93kt dots on the map. The 32,000 number is height of the cold war, actual numbers today are about half that...but good luck placing even 16,000 dots! $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jun 12 '18 at 19:45
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  • Say it starts with one side trying for a massive counterforce strike. The other side detects that and launches on warning. Call it one hour for the ICBM part of the exchange.
  • Bombers which got into the air before their bases were obliterated or which were on airborne alert proceed to their assigned targets. Less than a day for that part of the exchange.
  • Tactical weapons which got out of their depots before those were obliterated will be launched over days or weeks, but those are relatively low yields.
  • The nuclear ballistic missile submarines can fire some impressive salvos. Many might be integrated with the plan for the first day, others might fire much later as their commanders execute pre-written orders.
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