Evidence, Commentary, and Judgment

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3.3.2 Detonation of Single Weapon in Water

Use of a single, one kiloton nuclear warhead accurately targeted upon a surface ship even as large as an aircraft carrier would completely destroy it, with the probably loss of all hands. This would be in breach of the laws of war to the extent that disproportionate force would have been used. The same military objective could be achieved with the use of several successful torpedo or conventional missile attacks. If the weapon was detonated at very low altitude very substantial amounts of soluble radio-active isotopes would be generated and dispersed creating a large local environmental impact to the aquatic food-chains and a radioactive fallout plume lethal several miles downwind. Injection of radio-active material into the upper atmosphere would be unlikely. These effects would bring a further charge of unlawfulness to the extent that an. area would be poisoned.

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