As I will need to wait until all Fallout 4 expansions are released to write a play-through, I thought I would write another nuclear story, about a global exchange that does not involve the United States in the actual bombing. While this might seem unrealistic, I believe that I have accurately researched and described the nuclear capabilities and strategies of the involved parties in the story.
Dead Hand is real: http://www.businessinsider.com/russias-dead-hand-system-may-still-be-active-2014-9
It is a fail-deadly system designed to authorize commanders to launch nuclear strikes if contact with Moscow is lost. Russia has been rhetorically expanding the potential circumstances under which nuclear weapons will be used, and is expanding its sea-based and missile-base delivery platforms. Russian and Chinese approaches to nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear weapons are highly divergent. Russia possesses at least 4,490 nuclear weapons, not including tactical nuclear weapons, of which 1,790 are said to be in immediately deliverable configurations. Russian missiles are largely considered to be technologically inferior to those of NATO countries in terms of accuracy and fueling, but are armed with higher-yield warheads in an attempt to generate target kills via said yield.
2. China has a no-first-use policy, but has a policy of "assured retaliation", and possesses somewhere between 400 and 3,500 nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, including mobile ballistic missile launchers. China has pledged to never use nuclear arms against a non-nuclear state.
3. Israel possesses a number of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons in the 200-400 range. The Samson Option is real: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/sep/21/israelandthepalestinians.bookextracts
Exercise of the Samson Option would involve the nuclear bombing of surrounding Middle Eastern countries, and, likely, the major cities of all reachable European nations. It is widely believed that Israel's preparations to execute the Samson Option in the Yom Kippur war led to Nixon organizing the airlift of conventional arms and supplies to Israel to prevent the exercise of this option.
4. India has developed an ICBM, and is slated to have developed a longer range one by 2017. India has adopted a no-first-use policy, although later statements have made this ambiguous.
5. Pakistan has repudiated any acceptance of a "No First Use" policy, and has threatened to use nuclear arms in case of any conventional clash with India. Pakistan does not currently possess ICBMs, but does possess shorter-range arms.
6. The United Kingdom relies primarily upon ballistic missile submarines to deter attack. The United Kingdom has refused to apply the strict authorization controls of the United States to its ballistic missile submarines, fearing that a decapitation strike might otherwise remove counter-strike capability. All United Kingdom submarines remain capable of executing a rogue launch.
7. France relies primarily upon ballistic missile submarines as a nuclear strike weapon. France has declared an explicit willingness to use nuclear arms first, in case of invasion or against states which use terrorism as a means of conflict.
8. The United States relies upon the nuclear triad, that is, nuclear bombers, nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines, and land-based nuclear missiles. The United States is considered to have the most advanced nuclear targeting and delivery systems, and is thus the most capable of executing a decapitation strike on another nuclear state. The United States refuses to adopt a no-first-use policy, however, it has adopted a no-first-use policy towards any non-nuclear nation which has signed the Non-Proliferation-Treaty. The United States refuses to engage in chemical or biological warfare research, and has heavily implied that its refusal to adopt a no-first-use policy is to deter all WMD attacks upon it. The United States has officially declared that its nuclear arms exist solely for the purpose of deterrence. The United States possesses over 4,500 warheads, of which somewhere between 1,750 and 1,900 are in immediately deliverable form.