Nuclear War -
the use of weapons of mass destruction
powered by atomic processes. Using nuclear fission or fusion,
they produce huge explosions and hazardous radioactive
by-products. Most are meant to be delivered by artillery,
plane, ship, or ballistic missile(ICBM), but some have been
miniaturized. Tactical nuclear weapons can have the power of a
fraction of a kiloton of TNT; strategic weapons can produce
thousands of kilotons of force. Only two nuclear weapons have
been used in warfare, each an ATOMIC BOMB dropped on Japanese
targets by the U.S. in World War II (1945).
After the war,
proliferation of such weapons and the development of yet more
destructive ones, e.g., the HYDROGEN BOMB, caused worldwide
concern. During the postwar period an academic and
governmental subculture of people concerned with nuclear
strategy emerged. Some called for the use of nuclear weapons
in specific situations.
deterrence, others threats of massive retaliation, and some
the elimination of nuclear weapons. By 1993 there were nine
nations known to have nuclear weapons, but the U.S. and Russia
controlled the vast majority of the nearly 50,000 warheads.
Over a dozen other countries can or soon could make nuclear
weapons. In addition to radioactive fallout, the potential
environmental hazards of nuclear war include NUCLEAR WINTER.
Although weapons limitation treaties have been signed and the
number of nuclear warheads and delivery systems have declined
since the end of the COLD WAR, nuclear DISARMAMENT remains a
Map a Blast