It’s scary to think about, but Canada could suffer a nuclear strike.
Canada, being the international friend-to-everyone, wouldn’t provoke a nuclear assault directly, of course. If a nuclear missile were to strike somewhere in Canada, it would probably be because of the United States.
Unless you live under a rock (or took refuge in a bunker during the Cold War) then you know about the rising tensions between North Korea and the United States.
Both sides have threatened extreme action over the other. North Korea has literally said it could strike North America with a hydrogen bomb, and while the intended target would be somewhere in the U.S., many authorities say an attack could mistakenly hit Canada.
So what would actually happen if that were the case?
CTV delved into the potential scenario, speaking with experts like UBC political science professor Allen Sens. Offering a timeline of events in a potential nuclear strike, CTV’s findings were a bit terrifying.
First off, a nuclear missile heading our way would be detected by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) via satellite.
It would only take five minutes in the air for the missile to be detected. Canadians work at NORAD so the nation would be made aware of the threat.
But when it comes to an actual military response to a nuclear strike, Canada wouldn’t play a role. If the missile were to be shot down, experts say, it would be completely up to the United States government. A surprising fact, and a little worrying.
America does have defences set up to bring down nuclear missile, but not scores of them, so if North Korea were to send multiple missiles, a few could get through to the shores of North America. Another potentiality is that the U.S. brings down missiles over Canada, keeping their best interests in mind and not really worrying about us.
Scarier still is the fact that no one would be able to really know where a nuclear missile is headed until half an hour after it’s been in the air. That leaves very little time to warn citizens housed in the targeted city or area.
One expert told CTV that for people that will be directly impacted by a nuclear strike, the “first warning they get would be the blinding flash of the actual detonation.”
Using the web-tool Nuke Map, we can actually get an idea of what would happen to Montreal if were to be struck by a nuclear missile. The image below provides a visual.
Anyone in the yellow or red zones have a fatality rate of 100%. The green area is the heavy radiation zone, where 50% to 90% of people affected could die between several hours and several weeks. Further out in the grey zone fatalities would be widespread and anyone caught in the orange ring would suffer extreme third-degree burns.
An electromagnetic pulse would also be released, destroying electronics.
All in all, it would not be pretty.
Again, since there’s such little time to decipher where a nuclear missile is headed, there isn’t much one can do if caught up in a blast. Getting far enough away from the blast-radius isn’t really possible. Your best bet would be trying to find some sort of shelter. Anywhere underground with thick concrete walls are recommended.
Help wouldn’t really be on its way too quickly, either. Due to radioactivity, it could take first-responders as much as days to actually head into a blast-zone and aid survivors.
Then, of course, there would be the declaration of war against North Korea, should they be the ones who sent the missile, which again, is the most likely right now. The United States would be the first ones to declare war, followed by other countries in NATO, who are bound by pre-established agreements.
Now, all of this is pretty scary, but we probably don’t have much to worry about. Authorities on the subject say North Korea wouldn’t risk assaulting North America with a nuclear weapon.
If Kim Jong Un ordered the strike, it wouldn’t be long until the international community responded in kind. North Korea wouldn’t be able to defend itself against a band of countries, so if Kim Jong Un wants to stay in power, he probably knows he shouldn’t do anything rash.
So don’t lose too much sleep over the possibility of a nuclear assault on Canada, but it is always better to know the facts and be prepared just in case.