Connect with us

News

Use of a Nuclear Weapon Would Likely Ground All Air Travel: Report

Published

on

An image from YouTube shows a mushroom cloud from a U.S. above-ground nuclear test. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California released the first set of restored films of nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government from the 1940s to the early 1960s on YouTube on March 15, 2017.

An image from YouTube shows a mushroom cloud from a U.S. above-ground nuclear test. The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California released the first set of restored films of nuclear tests conducted by the U.S. government from the 1940s to the early 1960s on YouTube on March 15, 2017.
Image: Kyodo (AP)

Russia’s denial of airspace to western airlines has added hours to already long and complex flights, but that’s not the only concern airlines are facing. A lack of insurance against nuclear war might mean aircraft will be grounded all over the world in the event of the use of even a smaller, tactical nuclear device.

This report from Foreign Policy is so wild. At first it details how airlines that once flew through Russian airspace are abandoning the routes due to cost and the length of flights. Virgin Atlantic, for instance, is canceling its London to Hong Kong route.

And then FP drops another concern that absolutely flipped my lid :

All airlines’ insurance policies have exclusions for war and nuclear attacks. This nuclear exclusion clause has been around since the Cold War and has fortunately never had to be invoked. But because it was written during the Cold War, it foresees a nuclear attack leading to an all-out nuclear war, in which all insurance would be canceled simply because the world would face total destruction.

Now, though, the world is facing the prospect of Russia using a battlefield nuclear weapon against Ukraine. Russia has for several years reportedly been developing a new generation of battlefield nuclear weapons, which are also known as low-yield nuclear weapons and are less powerful than traditional ones. One Russian low-yield nuclear weapon, depending on how it is used, could kill somewhere between zero and tens of thousands of people. (They’re sometimes also referred to as tactical nuclear weapons.)

Although these weapons would cause devastation in the affected area, the harm would be nothing like Cold War-style nuclear Armageddon. But because insurance policies’ nuclear exclusions haven’t had to be tested by any such attacks—and long predate the current discussion about Russia’s so-called escalate-to-deescalate strategy—they simply stipulate that a nuclear attack would cause the insurance to be canceled.

That means if Russia uses a battlefield nuclear weapon against Ukraine, the world’s airlines will stop flying. “What we’re facing now is serious, but it’s not a nuclear Holocaust,” an executive who represents airlines vis-a-vis their insurers told FP. “Now insurers are discussing what to do in case of tactical nuclear attack. We have to discuss what the nuclear event is that will cancel aviation insurance. For now, we tell clients, ‘You have this clause, and insurers may apply it.’”

You’d think the Cold War is exactly when an airline would need such coverage but, of course, that’s not how insurers work. They don’t want to be on the hook for something as expensive as planes being lost to an event that seems likely to happen. It’s why flood insurance is nearly impossible to purchase for homes built on a flood plains. Airlines suffered a similar affect after September 11, 2001. Following the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, airlines found it nearly impossible to purchase War Risk Insurance, which covers “…hostile acts of violence against airlines, such as terrorism, hijackings, and sabotage.”

The problem with private markets pricing out airlines from War Risk insurance is that airlines need it to operate in some countries and engage in most aircraft loan and lease agreements require such insurance. The feds had to step in and provide affordable insurance until the mid-2010s when the private markets correct. If airlines think nukes will void their War Risk policies, they’d likely not risk flying at all rather than lose a plane full of passengers to nuclear devastation.

And passenger jets certainly don’t survive well in the event of a nuclear war. The U.S. government specially retrofitted some Boeing 747s back in the ’70s to withstand nuclear fallout and serve as a flying seat of government, but its quiet on how the plane has been updated, Politico reports. It is known the Doomsday plane comes with “…computers and wiring onboard are hardened with thermal and nuclear shielding.”

Officials have been cagey in recent weeks about what a U.S. response to Russia’s use of a nuclear device in Ukraine would look like, and that’s by design according to Bloomberg:

As the Western world is trying to gauge whether Russia’s Vladimir Putin is willing to break the 77-year-long taboo against deploying nuclear weapons, the US has stayed silent about its response—albeit with warnings of “catastrophic” and “severe” consequences.

That’s on purpose.

“US policymakers are wisely and deliberately ambiguous on how they would respond,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “There are many different scenarios that could involve nuclear use in that war, each of which would create unique circumstances, for which there is no simple, standard response.”

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan recent warning of “catastrophic consequence” should Russia deploy nuclear weapons is a “pretty clear deterrent threat, although the exact response was not specified, likely for deterrent and political reasons,” said Stacie Pettyjohn, senior fellow and director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security.

It seems like if even a smaller tactical battlefield nuke, we will all have much bigger problems to deal with than a ton of canceled flights, stranded travelers or ruined aircraft. Insurance companies are now working to correct the over 50-year-old issue, but now both geopolitics and technology are even more complex than back in the us-verses-them days of the Cold War. Hopefully they’ll do all this work for absolutely no reason.

Continue Reading

Recent News

Crypto Staking Crypto Staking
Crypto3 hours ago

Is it Possible To Make Money On Crypto Staking in 2024?

In the modern world, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies are becoming increasingly popular, attracting the attention of investors and users from...

Lake Como Lake Como
Wedding4 hours ago

How to Choose the Right Location for a Marriage Proposal in Italy and Lake Como

Proposing marriage is a unique and memorable moment in a couple’s life. Choosing the right location is crucial to creating...

Personal Injury Lawyer Personal Injury Lawyer
Law4 days ago

Finding the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in Lumberton, NC

Personal injury law is designed to protect individuals who have been harmed due to the negligence or wrongful actions of...

WhatsApp Business WhatsApp Business
Business4 days ago

Running WhatsApp Business with Pro+VPS for Android Emulator

WhatsApp Business is one of the most powerful tool for Business to manage customers communication. Running it can enhance the...

Civil Partnership Visa Civil Partnership Visa
Finance5 days ago

Civil Partnership Visa vs Spouse Visa: Which One is Right for You

Choosing the right visa to join your partner in the UK can be confusing. Two common options are the Civil...

Crypto Crypto
Crypto6 days ago

Staked Crypto – A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

Ethereum staking has become an increasingly popular way for cryptocurrency holders to earn passive income through staking rewards. In this...

Ethereum Staking Ethereum Staking
Crypto1 week ago

Maximizing Ethereum Staking Rewards: Tips and Tricks

Are you looking to maximize the potential of your Ethereum holdings? Stake Ethereum using OkayCoin and take advantage of the...

Wedding Wedding
Wedding1 week ago

4 Wedding Services You Can Quickly Check Off Your To-Do List

Organizing a wedding might like arranging a large-scale symphony, in which each element must work together to produce a beautiful...

Luxury Shopping Luxury Shopping
Lifestyle1 week ago

Luxury Shopping in Ibiza: A Guide to the Finest Boutiques

Ibiza is synonymous with lavish lifestyles, sun-soaked beaches, and electrifying nightlife. But beyond the party scene and stunning seascapes, the...

Indian Brides Indian Brides
Fashion1 week ago

Top Trends in Diamond Necklaces for Indian Brides

As Indian brides gear up for their big day, the selection of the perfect diamond necklace is crucial. Diamond necklaces...