top of page

The Rotterdam blast - The immediate humanitarian consequences of a 12Kt nuclear explosion

The chances of a nuclear weapon detonating in the port of Rotterdam are said to be very small. Nuclear stockpiles are well protected and so is the biggest harbor in Europe.

Containers and ships are scanned, intelligence services are diligent and keep track of suspicious activities. The Rotterdam Port Authority is one of the most advanced in the world.


That said, the terrifying events described in this report are realistic. There are over 17,000 nuclear warheads around the globe today and each is designed to do exactly this: to explode with enough force to take out entire neighborhoods, or even whole cities.


The 12 kiloton bomb ‘used’ in this ‘PAX-No Nukes’-report is not even a particularly big one. It is roughly the size of the bomb used in Hiroshima. Today, the nuclear arsenals of the nine nuclear armed countries contain weapons with an estimated explosive range of about 0.3 kt to 1,200 kt.

The Rotterdam-Blast Rapport
Download PDF • 1.86MB

The American B61 nuclear bombs stored in the Netherlands, for example, can be set for a 12 kiloton detonation, but can also be ‘dialed up’ to detonate with the force of 170 kilotons.


Rotterdam is a realistic target for someone mad enough to use a nuclear weapon. It is by far the biggest harbor in Europe, with access to the hinterland that includes the industrial and economic powerhouse regions of Germany and the Netherlands.


The port was counted by the Soviets among the top priority targets during the Cold War. Since 9/11, the port has often topped the list of vital European strategic and logistical areas sensitive to disruption from terrorist attacks.


The use of weapons of mass destruction always seems like an impossibility, until it happens. The use of chemical weapons in Syria in 2013 is a reminder of how unpredictable the future behavior of states and non-state actors can be.


There is no magic formula to predict the future and today’s responsible actor can become tomorrow’s terrorist or terrorizing state. And accidents happen.

21 views0 comments


bottom of page