New York Magazine

This Is What a Nuclear Bomb Looks Like

If America is attacked, the strike probably won’t come from North Korea. And it will be even scarier than we imagine.

IN HIS EFFORTS TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, Donald Trump has succeeded in reviving at least one aspect of America’s past: the fear of nuclear war. Since taking office, the president has boasted about the size of his “Nuclear Button,” jettisoned the nuclear deal with Iran, and threatened to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea. His national-security adviser, John Bolton, openly advocates a first-strike policy against nuclear-armed enemies, and the Pentagon, after decades of careful disarmament, wants to spend $1.2 trillion to upgrade its nuclear arsenal. If you’ve felt a new shiver of nuclear fear over the past year, you’re not alone: The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has moved its “Doomsday Clock” to within two minutes of midnight—closer than it has been since the height of the Cold War. In January, when a state employee in Hawaii mistakenly triggered an emergency alert, warning that a ballistic missile was inbound, many islanders raced to take shelter and unite with their loved ones, believing they were only minutes away from utter devastation.

What made the false alarm all the more frightening is just how plausible the prospect of

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