Would SoCal be a Primary Nuclear Target?

by James Walton

It’s hard to understand a place like southern California if you are from the Southeast (where this humble author resides). The weather is always nice; renters pay a month’s worth of salary to live in a shoebox; there is an endless cultural fascination with the latest and greatest “superfoods.” However, disaster has a special way of uniting us, and we all watched SoCal get their stripes as tropical storm Hillary made landfall and, simultaneously, a 5.1 magnitude earthquake hit offshore.

It would seem this (understandably) shook the people of places like San Diego and Los Angeles, causing them to question the overall preparedness of the region.

But what would have happened, had the storm been a little bigger or the earthquake more powerful? What if instead of mother nature striking the shores, it was mankind? After all, Los Angeles is about 6,000 miles from Beijing, and as a massive population center, it could be viewed as an attractive target for a nuclear attack.

Besides, it was only a couple of weeks ago that Vladimir Putin deployed his longest-range nuclear weapon, the Satan 2. Notably, this 116 foot long silo launched missile is capable of traveling 11,000 miles.

This begs the question: with recent natural disasters exposing the flaws in the Golden State’s preparedness measures, how we you imagine the people of Southern California would fare against a Russian nuclear strike?

Let’s review.

Table of Contents

  • 01

    SoCal’s Demographics and Population Centers

  • 02

    SoCal Nuclear Targets Beyond the Big Cities

  • 03

    Targeting Industry in SoCal

  • 04

    An Attack on Culture

  • 05

    SoCal Risk Assessment & Preparation

  • 06

    Recommended Gear for SoCal Preparedness

  • 07

    Final Thoughts

  • 08

    Frequently Asked Questions

SoCal’s Demographics and Population Centers

San Francisco

San Francisco (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

Dave Jones earned his moniker “The NBC Guy” after a twenty-plus-year military career teaching and training servicemen about nuclear, biological, and chemical threats. Today, his training courses help everyday people understand nuclear preparedness–while giving you a peek into the mind of someone who was hired and trained to use nuclear weapons.

One of his many pearls of wisdom includes: “An airburst is going to kill the most people in a densely populated area, and that is what we are trying to do!”

If the NBC Guy is correct, then targeting a population of around 23.76 million–per the 2020 census data–could be a great way to achieve the goal. Modern nuclear weapons, after all, would make short work of places like San Francisco and LA–particularly one as fearsome as the “Satan 2.”

Indeed, Russian propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov once bragged of this powerful weapon, “[Britain] is so small that one Sarmat missile is enough to drown it once and for all.” (For reference, Southern California is a little more than half the size of Britain. It is important to emphasize, however, that Kiselyov was overstating the Satan 2’s power.)

With that said, there is one glaring aspect of California likely to give foreign foes pause before deploying a nuclear bomb.

Here, we do not speak of the state’s coastal military installations, but instead its diversity. In this regard, there can be no doubt that the demographics of the United States make the decision of an indiscriminate nuclear blast much harder on opposing nations.

In the case of a Chinese nuclear strike, for example, the country would have to be willing to kill millions of Chinese Americans. This demographic, notably, makes up the largest immigrant group in the state with six million total, according to the 2020 US Census. (This figure, of course, does not include Chinese tourists.)

Though China has been accused of its fair share of ruthless decisions, it seems unlikely that the country would wish to cause the sizable Chinese diaspora in the United States any harm.

SoCal Nuclear Targets Beyond the Big Cities

San Diego Naval Base

San Diego Naval Base (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons )

There is no way the SoCal hippies and Hollywood acolytes would live amidst massive military installations, right? WRONG!

As a matter of fact, the state as a whole has more military bases than average. Remember, after all, that there is a lot of coast, and the state is large.

Still, there are some standouts in Southern California that are worth noting.


At 1.1 million acres, the NAWCWD - NAVAIR is the largest naval landholding division of weapons production. To put it simply, all the Navy weapons are developed and likely tested at this location.

Lying a mere 150 miles north of LA, one would be hard-pressed to find a better inland target.

San Diego Naval Base

As the second largest surface ship base in the US, this is the homeport to the Pacific naval fleet. If an enemy wanted to take out some aircraft carriers and battleships, they would undoubtedly eye this as a potential target.

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

Camp Pendleton is one of the bases Marines train at before they head overseas for Naval Operations. In particular, its coastal location makes it perfect for amphibious training ops.

Note that the bases mentioned here are three of the thirty-three that are positioned in Southern California–a number that arguably increases the risk of the region being targeted in a nuclear exchange.

Targeting Industry in SoCal

If naval bases are top military targets, then ports are easily top industry targets, as they sit on the same coastline and bring resources directly to the population. Casting our minds back a year, footage emerged of ships jamming up these ports due to supply chain issues.

Though we often hear how manufacturing is suffering in the US, SoCal is home to a variety of plastic, foam, and, as you can imagine, electronics manufacturers.

In San Jose, there is a particularly interesting company called Space Machining Inc. This company creates products for medical aerospace, robotics, the automotive industry, pharma, and even semiconductors. And no matter which superpowers wind up locking horns, you better believe that drones and tech powered by semiconductors will play a MASSIVE role in the next war.

Metal and steel suppliers are another key sector in Southern California indutry. These metals, notably, are essential to waging war, as war machines are made of steel, and ammunition is cased in steel and brass.

Food for Thought

A California vineyard. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

Though it’s further north than Southern California, it’s worth noting that the Central Valley in California is responsible for growing more crops than any other state in the US.

Efforts to break the will of the population in war, therefore, might begin with the incineration and irradiation of the Central Valley. While the US produces plenty of food, this would hurt availability.

An Attack on Culture

The Hollywood Hills. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

It’s true that modern Hollywood “got ripped and took a walk off a roof” in their quest for ultimate virtue. And now the strikes are inspiring incredible new talent to poke their nose into the world of filmmaking–which is probably ultimately for the better.

The movie star cartel of Ryan Renolds, Dwayne Johnson, Jennifer Laurence, Chris Pratt, Scarlet Johansson, Margot Robbie, and so on has grown a little tiresome, after all–making it astounding that people are still lining up for endless Fast and the Furious sequels and one strange, controversial Disney remake after another.

All that said, Hollywood is America. Not only did it spread American film, culture, and values throughout the world, but it compelled superstar talents like Bruce Lee to travel to America–bringing with them so much. And don’t forget that Hollywood gave us our fortieth president: a man who went on to use his booming Hollywood bravado to “bring down that wall.”

For these reasons, Hollywood will always have a place in our hearts and–perhaps more importantly–our economy. To see Hollywood go up in a plume of radioactive smoke, therefore, would economically, psychologically, and culturally affect the population.

SoCal Risk Assessment & Preparation

LA Skyline

LA Skyline (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

A mere 157 miles fro the US border, the Southern California region is a massive population center with tons of valuable infrastructure and military installations—aspects that make the area vulnerable.

As such, the potential for disaster, emergency, and even attack are relatively high in Southern California.

Nuclear Disaster Risk: High. Since our foremost nuclear armed enemies are in Asia, it would only make sense that nuclear strikes come across the Pacific. With a massive naval presence and lots of military installations, the risk of nuclear strike is high (in comparison to other states).

Note that the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is the sole operational plant in California. With that said, it is in central California, and a meltdown would not affect the southern part of the state.

haz-suit for kids

Preparation: Kid Gas Masks

If you have children, you ought to know that you cannot simply slap a full-face adult respirator on them. That's because it is not going to seal properly, putting your child’s life will be at risk. That's where MIRA Safety’s CM-3M, our child escape respirator, comes in. 

With an integrated hydration system and built in NBC filter, this gas mask can even protect toddlers.

Chemical Disaster Risk: Medium. Granted, there are some chemical manufacturing facilities in SoCalbut the chemical threat is actually pretty low. Though chemical attacks in densely populated areas could certainly cause some kind of harm, the chances of an East Palestine style chemical disaster are not as likely.

That said, water is a serious commodity, especially in times of drought. And should a chemical disaster affect the water supplies in SoCal, it would be a serious disaster.


Preperation: DETEHIT CWD-3 Detection Strips

Nerve agents are odorless, meaning you cannot see them or smell them. The first thing you see, therefore, is the symptoms.

So, do you know how to respond to a nerve agent? Our DETEHIT detection strips can detect nerve agents in a matter of minutes.

Biological Disaster Risk: High. Nearly a year ago, a shocking discovery in Fresno County, California made headline news. An unlicensed, covert biolab containing a variety of viruses, bacteria, bags of blood, and mice infected with COVID-19—among other terrifying thingswas uncovered in a small building that was hit with a simple hose violation. Only by chance did they find this place!

This is one example, though terrifying, of the risks presented to this region of the nation. If you remember, COVID-19 came to the West Coast first, too.

High population density means that the spread of biological threats is very common. In LA county, for example, the rapid spread of flea-borne typhus among the massive homeless population in 2022 provides one notable example of this. the haz-suit

Preparation: The HAZ-SUIT

In the event of a dangerous outbreak of a biological agent, setting up a quarantine and avoiding contamination is so important. Enter the HAZ-SUIT. A multi-use product, this hazmat suit protects you from radioactive fallout.

Natural Disaster Risk: High. Running through SoCal, deep below the surface, the San Andreas fault line and the San Jacinto fault line are both very close to Los Angeles. Plus, Southern Cali is a coastal region within the ring of fire, meaning that the threat of offshore earthquakes and tsunamis is always a concern.

Recently, we have seen much more of a risk from wildfires and dangerous smoke in the Southern California region.

the CM-6M

Preparation: Full-Face Respirator CM-6M

Not only will this full-face mask work to protect you against the smoke from wildfires, dust, and debris in the air following an earthquake, and it is also designed to handle CBRN threats. If you, for example, thread on an NBC-77 SOF, then the mask can deal with nuclear fallout or chemical or biological attack—making the mask a catch-all product.

Recommended Gear for SoCal Preparedness

The basics of preparedness do not change much based on region: you gotta eat and drink. You gotta stay clean and protect the people around you.

In light of this, and considering California's history of drought, water should be a priority. Investing in an atmospheric water generator, therefore, would be a good move. Note that these machines pull the moisture from the air and turn it into drinkable water. (Stored bottled water would be an important prep to include, too.)

As for food, shelf stable foods that do not require lots of water for preparation, like canned goods, would be the best option. That way, you do not need to use precious water for cooking.

Now, that aforementioned potential nuclear strike is going to require specific preps. After all, population centers like San Francisco and Los Angeles could be vaporized if they are targeted directly. This makes it prudent to invest in an underground shelter or bunker—or else move to a more remote area.

Protection against contamination will be paramount, too, and so will be measuring the nuclear contamination in the area. In this regard, the Geiger-2 Portable Geiger Counter is the perfect pocket-sized device.

Lastly, have you considered your pets? Since the wonderful climate in SoCal is the perfect environment for a canine companion, we reckon a lot of our Californian readers have furry friends. But remember: you can’t slap a CM-6M on Fido. Instead, the First Breed Animal Ark is advisable.

the animal ark

Final Thoughts

LA seen from above

LA bird's eye view. (Image courtesy of Pixabay)

Some of the most beautiful coasts on the planet exist in Southern California. The San Francisco bay, the California Coast Ranges, and Torrey Pines are all examples of this breathtaking beauty. Even better, residents are able to view this panorama in an average annual temperature of around 70 degrees.

All in all, there are—all ribbing aside—many good reasons that people are willing to pay $3000 for a studio apartment in this neck of the woods. 

But there are risks too.

Should the ICBMs start to fly, it’s not a stretch to imagine one of the early targets being Southern California. And for that reason, preparations are vital.

Frequently Asked Questions

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