What if the nuclear Negev Canal actually existed?

Not too long after the Suez Crisis, the United States actually had suggested digging a canal across the Negev Desert in Israel as an alternative to the Suez Canal. ...Using over 500 nuclear bombs. Yes, this was actually real.

According to the memo, this was because of the exponential cost of digging a canal through normal means. In OTL, this project obviously failed to go through, for obvious reasons including further strained relations with Arab states and damaging long-term effects. But, for some reason, let's say that the American government goes through with this consideration and, for the sake of this scenario, has Israeli approval. How would this scenario play out? How different would the (political and physical) climate of Israel and the Red Sea change?

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I love the last sentence of that report

It is likely that the Arab countries surrounding Israel would object strongly to the construction of such a canal

No shit Sherlock.

Though why would anyone object to 500 Nuclear explosions on their doorstep its not as if there could be an accident.🤪
 
I love the last sentence of that report

It is likely that the Arab countries surrounding Israel would object strongly to the construction of such a canal

No shit Sherlock.

Though why would anyone object to 500 Nuclear explosions on their doorstep its not as if there could be an accident.🤪
Oh, don't worry, it's 'perfectly safe', the explosions are all underground and 'the radioactivity is completely contained'.
Trust us!
 
On the bright side, noone would be fighting for control over the area anymore. Largely because nothing could live there.



Then again....
 
On the bright side, noone would be fighting for control over the area anymore. Largely because nothing could live there.



Then again....
Actually, the amount of surface residual radioactivity would likely be very small, in fact. Maybe like living in Colorado. (Between the elevation letting more cosmic rays through and the natural radioactivity in the surrounding rocks, Denver has a relatively high radiation level. Compared to other cities.)

The 'perfectly contained' radioactivity is likely to get into the air and be blown to neighboring states rather than sticking around on the surface.
 
Let's just nuke the desert, there won't be any downsides!

In all seriousness, this would cause an environmental disaster that would backfire horribly on both the Israelis and Americans. Both country's international reputations would take a hit as well.
 
Much of the Negev highlands are covered with highly saline soils. When exposed to high neutron flux, such as a nuclear explosion, the stable sodium isotope Na-23 will be converted to Na-24, which is a strong gamma emitter with half-life of 15 hours.
 
You're not going to get a canal. You're going to get an irradiated wasteland that will make Chernobyl look like a preschool.

Also, the Negev Desert is at the epicentre of Israel's agriculture industry, so it's probably not a great idea to be detonating nukes there. Radiation will spread from the initial blast zone.

Before anyone corrects me and says Israel's agriculture industry didn't get off the ground until the 1980s or so, that doesn't change a thing. The Negev Desert may look like a barren wasteland, but it's always been a bountiful agricultural site for millennia, dating back to the Crusades.


Not too long after the Suez Crisis, the United States actually had suggested digging a canal across the Negev Desert in Israel as an alternative to the Suez Canal. ...Using over 500 nuclear bombs. Yes, this was actually real.

It wouldn't be the first time someone thought about using nuclear bombs for architecture. In Australia for example...

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11...to-use-nuclear-bombs-in-port-hedland/12848004
 
You're not going to get a canal. You're going to get an irradiated wasteland that will make Chernobyl look like a preschool.
They weren't THAT stupid. All the Project Plowshare type projects (that I know of) involved underground explosions, which actually contain the radioactivity pretty well.
Rather more will escape than the planners will count on (and far more than they'll tell the locals to expect), but much of that will be airborne.

Honestly, I don't expect the surface to have a much higher radiation count than e.g. Denver iOTL.
 
TBH the concerning thing to me about some of these Ploughshare proposals is how well they would have worked... This plus a sea level Panama canal would get us a pretty large group of people advocating for MOAR nuclear explosives.
 
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