What are Nuclear War Weapons?

Klaus Strasser

Nuclear war weapons are explosive devices that employ the physical principles of atomic and nuclear science to unleash massive amounts of force and energy. They are regarded as the most dangerous technology currently on the planet and are considered to be a weapon of mass destruction. The United States is the only country to use nuclear war weapons in a non-testing situation, destroying the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

A replica of the "Fat Man" atom bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki.
A replica of the "Fat Man" atom bomb that was detonated over Nagasaki.

Fusion or fission bombs typically are the only two types of nuclear war weapons. Fission nuclear weapons are commonly known as atom bombs. They use the science of atomic fission to achieve a supercritical mass, employing fissile materials like plutonium or enriched uranium to set off a chain reaction. Fusion nuclear weapons, known commonly as hydrogen bombs, also use the principles of atomic fission, but because of the higher quantities of energy they generate, this also yields fusion that in turn creates a more violent explosion.

Many countries around the world are worried about a nuclear Iran.
Many countries around the world are worried about a nuclear Iran.

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With the advent of nuclear war weapons, world politics adjusted to the dangers and challenges of this new technology. The continued development of these weapons led to arm races between the Soviet Union and the United States called the Cold War. Other countries such as France also sought to develop nuclear weapons for what was viewed as a necessary security measure. The arms race led to more advanced and deadly types of nuclear weapons being produced.

Hydrogen bombs were the most powerful weapons developed during the Cold War.
Hydrogen bombs were the most powerful weapons developed during the Cold War.

Realizing this dangerous trend in the arms race, attempts to stop the growing number of nuclear weapons included acts such as the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which intended to limit their production. Organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) attempt to monitor against the possible proliferation of nuclear weapons and encourage friendly usage of nuclear technology.

Nuclear weapons can be carried aboard ballistic missile submarines like the Soviet/Russian Typhoon class vessels.
Nuclear weapons can be carried aboard ballistic missile submarines like the Soviet/Russian Typhoon class vessels.

It is estimated that the number of countries in the world with nuclear weapons is approximately 20. As of 2009, only five nations are officially recognized as nuclear weapons states: Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Countries such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all tested nuclear weapons. Israel is suspected to have in excess of 200 nuclear weapons, but has never confirmed or denied this publicly.

Pakistan has developed and tested nuclear weapons.
Pakistan has developed and tested nuclear weapons.

The most dangerous nuclear weapon ever produced by man was the Tsar Bomba, a Russian hydrogen bomb that was designed to generate an explosion equivalent to 100 megatons of TNT. Due to the concern about nuclear fallout, only half of a Tsar Bomba was ever made and was tested in 1961. It is the most powerful explosion ever made by humankind.

The development of nuclear weapons led to the arms race between the USSR and the US during the Cold War.
The development of nuclear weapons led to the arms race between the USSR and the US during the Cold War.
North Korea detonated its first nuclear bomb in 2006.
North Korea detonated its first nuclear bomb in 2006.

Discussion Comments

sriram

responsible and stable countries should indeed have nuclear tech. but nuclear tech in the hands of unstable democracies like pakistan and irresponsible nations such as north korea can prove really costly. in such a case, a nuclear winter is not a distant possibility. energy needs to be understood more as a political situation and the developed countries must step in to refrain the unstable countries from getting nuclearised.

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