The end of the world is closer than we think. However, it will not be from a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion, but rather by the simple act of pushing a big red button. Nuclear weapons pose one of the greatest threats to humanity in all of human history. These weapons of mass destruction must be disarmed in order to eliminate the dire possibility of global annihilation.
After the presidential Grand Old Party debate in Dec. 2015, leading Republican candidate Donald Trump’s spokesperson, Katrina Pierson, later stated, “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” The disregard for proper knowledge and serious attitude towards this weighty topic is frightening, considering that Trump could become the one who has access to these weapons of mass destruction.
Nuclear weaponry are bombs that utilize nuclear reactions to create high‒power explosions using a small amount of materials. It was first created during World War II by the Manhattan Project in the United States. After testing, US warplanes dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. According to the World Nuclear Association, these attacks initially killed over 200,000 people, as well as causing radiation damage and cancer throughout the area. Japan surrendered a week later. It was the first and only time that a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. This attack demonstrated the strength of nuclear power, a weapon that the world had never seen.
The spread and development of nuclear technology, nuclear proliferation, had gone into full effect during the later half of the 20th century. According to the United Nations, there are now over 20,000 nuclear bombs in the world, estimated to be 1,000 times stronger than the ones dropped in World War II.
There have been many efforts to stop nuclear proliferation. After World War II, the UN unsuccessfully called for the elimination of atomic bombs through treaties such as the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone and the Non Proliferation treaty. Throughout the world, various regions have banned nuclear weapons like Africa, South America, Australia, and many Eurasian countries.
The vast majority of nuclear weapons are held by the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. Countries engaged in regional conflicts, like India and Pakistan, pose a serious threat to nuclear war because of their unstable states. In fact, the Nuclear Threat Initiative states multiple countries have caught North Korea selling weapons of mass destruction to unknown buyers, which directly interferes with UN laws regarding such weaponry.
Unstable nuclear countries with misguided intentions may plunge the world into the first, and last, nuclear war. Once one nation deploys its missiles, it will only be a matter of time until others follow suit.
Another real threat may not even come from a country at all. If a non-state party, such as a terrorist group, were able to get access to illegal nuclear weapons of mass destruction, the results would be devastating. A secret nuclear attack from a radical group with unknown military weapons would have devastating effects.
While it may seem like an unlikely scenario, the effects of nuclear weaponry are not to be taken lightly. A single nuclear explosion could level an entire city, killing millions and rendering the surrounding environment hazardous with radiation which could lead to extremely high levels of cancer risks. In fact, the effects of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima stayed for 30 years, therefore, nuclear detonation will have even more devastating outcomes now due to stronger nuclear weapons. According to Nuclear Darkness Organization, a full scale nuclear war across the world would destroy all natural ecosystems, create violent climates and turn the surface of the earth into a deadly layer of radiation.
One of the primary defenses against nuclear war is the military idea of Mutual Assured Destruction, where a nation will not attack another because they know that it will lead to obliteration by each other. However, this does not defend against radical non-state enemies or unstable nations, whose beliefs or volatile disposition would cause them to think irrationally.
Contrary to twentieth century thought, the threat of a nuclear war cannot be solved by more armaments. The only way that the world can be safe from global annihilation if these weapons of mass destruction are disarmed. The UN and many countries are urging other nations to follow suit in their policy of no nuclear weapons, but America is one of the few nations with a large stockpile of nuclear bombs capable of wiping out humanity. It is the duty as American citizens to stay informed about these weapons of mass destruction and to lead the nation into an age without weapons of mass destruction.