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ELI5:Why does the United States need enough nukes to destroy the Earth 5 times over? Wouldn’t having enough to destroy the planet only once make more sense?(r/explainlikeimfive)
When you want to destroy a target, you don’t hit it with 1 nuke. You hit it with 4-5 from different sources and methods, maybe one doesn’t work, maybe 2 get destroyed, maybe another doesn’t ever make it there, but you need it destroyed. You need at least 1 to get through.
If you have a thousand targets, and need 5 for each, just in an initial strike, than you may need 5000 weapons. This does not even account for all of the other craziness and aftermath of a war that you will need more weapons for in subsequent rounds of firing. Because surely after a nuclear war, you’re not making any new ones anytime soon.
You have to make absolutely sure that no matter what happens, if they shoot missile out of the sky, nuke the missile sites, destroy subs, sabotage, anything, that you still have plenty available to completely annihilate the enemy, so that there is no hope to ever win in an exchange.