Nuclear Weapons

A major problem concerning the world today is the disposal of nuclear weapons. With the Cold War, we have seen a massive build up of nuclear weapons, and no, that we are no longer in a state of global warfare, what is to be done with them? As a result of the build-up in nuclear weapons during the cold war the world is now facing major environmental problems trying to deactivate them, and in addition major debate are occurring on the policies of disarmament and deterrence as solutions to this global problem. Countries are becoming more aware of the fact that their citizens do not want to have to worry about a nuclear attack or environmental effects of nuclear weapons testing. The people of the world are calling for an end to this senseless destruction of the earth. The explosive power of a nuclear weapon comes from nuclear fission or nuclear fusion, or both in the case of the Hydrogen bomb. A typical small nuclear weapon has the explosive yields of tens of thousands of tons of the conventional explosive TNT. A large nuclear weapon can kill hundreds of thousands of people, and when carried on a ballistic missile, can travel intercontinental distances in less than half an hour. The deployment of tens of thousands of these weapons, primarily by the United Sates and the Soviet Union, has threatened annihilation of millions of people with little or no warning. Strategic (long-range) nuclear weapons include land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and bombs and cruise missiles carried on long-range bombers. Tactical nuclear weapons are shorter-range weapons allocated for regional use or for use in support of battlefield operations. As a result of the Cold War, the build-up of nuclear weapons today has never been greater. The term "Cold War" refers to the strategic and political struggle that developed after World War II between the United States and its Wester European allies on one side, and the former USSR on the other. The Soviet leaders considered the objections of the United States to Soviet actions in Poland, Hungary, and Romania a betrayal of wartime understandings about spheres of influence in Europe. Therefore the Soviet Union was placed under a military and political barrier. The stockpile of nuclear weapons that available today is the direct result of the arms race which was the highlight of the cold war. Nuclear arms at the time of the cold war were considered to be a way for countries to discourage other countries from attacking, mainly the United States and the USSR, which were the key players in the arms race of the 1950's and 60's. While the dissolution of the Soviet Union has r!educed the concern about nuclear war waged with strategic weapons between the Russia and the U.S., other issues have become more pressing. As far as is known, only eight countries now have nuclear weapons. "The five declared nuclear powers are : the United States, over 9,000 warheads deployed and some 11,000 in reserve or awaiting dismantling; Russia, over 10,000 warheads deployed and some 18,000 in reserve or awaiting dismantling; France, over 500 warheads; China, about 450 warheads; U.K., about 300 warheads." "In addition to the key countries there are 'threshold' states which have not officially confirmed the possession of nuclear weapons: Israel, India and Pakistan," all countries in which there is great possibilities of a civil war breaking out and the nuclear weapons being utilized. The realization by the people of the massive amounts of nuclear weapons stockpiled and disastrous environmental hazards has caused much protest among the people.

During the cold war thoughts of massive destruction and human suffering dominated people's minds, but no one really knew how grave the situation would be after a nuclear bomb was dropped. Until recently, scientific research had not addressed the potential long-term climatic and environmental damage of a nuclear conflict. Scientific research suggests that a nuclear conflict could inject enough smoke and dust particles into the atmosphere to block out sunlight and cause severe drops in surface temperatures over a significant period of time. This, in turn could adversely affect plants, animals, and humans. The term "nuclear winter" has been coined to describe these effects. The implications of the theory on a global scale is that non-involved nations, as well as the nations directly involved with the conflict, could be veulnerable to the