I wouldn’t start building that bomb shelter just yet.
Yes, both Las Vegas and Reno are black dots on that Chinese newspaper map showing damage from a Chinese nuclear attack, but so are Helena, Mont., and Nashua, N.H. Though a Washington Times article discussing the potential for Chinese missile attacks via both submarines and over-the-pole ICBMs lists both San Diego and Norfolk, Va., as potential targets, neither is a dot on the map.
A reporter for the Nashua Telegraph called the Washington Times columnist about the map that accompanied his article and was told it came from the Global Times, an English-language Chinese newspaper. The Chinese paper has carried a number of stories about Chinese nuclear capabilities online recently, but I could not find the map there.
The Nashua paper said the columnist, Miles Yu, said the map was labeled by the Chinese newspaper as a target analysis showing projected damage from a nuclear strike in Seattle. He was uncertain what the black dots on the map are supposed to show. “I think those are urban centers,” he said. “I have no idea what they are. It didn’t explain.”
R-J columnist Glenn Cook said of the Chinese newspaper account, “Las Vegas can appreciate the self-promoting aspect of the Chinese reports, which mentioned the ‘awesomeness’ of the country’s fleet. It’s all posturing and no threat.”
But the other reason to hold off on that bomb shelter is that it might not do you much good, especially if you live anywhere near Nellis Air Force Base and its nuclear bomb storage igloos. Whether Las Vegas is a dot on a newspaper map or not, Nellis is surely a prime target.
As I wrote nearly 34 years ago, a good-sized nuclear attack would leave a big, big crater.