nuclear weapons


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nuclear weapons,

weapons of mass destruction powered by atomic, rather than chemical, processes. Nuclear weapons produce large explosions and hazardous radioactive byproducts by means of either nuclear fission or nuclear fusion. Nuclear weapons can be delivered by artillery, plane, ship, or ballistic missile (ICBM); some can also fit inside a suitcase. Tactical nuclear weapons can have the explosive power of a fraction of a kiloton (one kiloton equals 1,000 tons of TNT), while strategic nuclear weapons can produce thousands of kilotons of explosive force. After World War II, the proliferation of nuclear weapons became an increasing cause of concern throughout the world. At the end of the 20th cent. the vast majority of such weapons were held by the United States and the USSR; smaller numbers were held by Great Britain, France, China, India, and Pakistan. Israel also has nuclear weapons but has not confirmed that fact publicly; North Korea has conducted nuclear test explosions but probably does not have a readily deliverable nuclear weapon; and South Africa formerly had a small arsenal. Over a dozen other countries can, or soon could, make nuclear weapons. In addition to the danger of radioactive falloutfallout,
minute particles of radioactive material produced by nuclear explosions (see atomic bomb; hydrogen bomb; Chernobyl) or by discharge from nuclear-power or atomic installations and scattered throughout the earth's atmosphere by winds and convection currents.
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, in the 1970s scientists began investigating the potential impact of nuclear war on the environment. The collective effects of the environmental damage that could result from a large number of nuclear explosions has been termed nuclear winternuclear winter,
theory holding that the smoke and dust produced by a large nuclear war would result in a prolonged period of cold on the earth. The earliest version of the theory, which was put forward in the early 1980s in the so-called TTAPS report (named for last initials of
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. Treaties have been signed limiting certain aspects of nuclear testing and development. Although the absolute numbers of nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles have declined since the end of the cold war, disarmament remains a distant goal. See atomic bombatomic bomb
or A-bomb,
weapon deriving its explosive force from the release of nuclear energy through the fission (splitting) of heavy atomic nuclei. The first atomic bomb was produced at the Los Alamos, N.Mex., laboratory and successfully tested on July 16, 1945.
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; cold warcold war,
term used to describe the shifting struggle for power and prestige between the Western powers and the Communist bloc from the end of World War II until 1989. Of worldwide proportions, the conflict was tacit in the ideological differences between communism and
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; disarmament, nucleardisarmament, nuclear,
the reduction and limitation of the various nuclear weapons in the military forces of the world's nations. The atomic bombs dropped (1945) on Japan by the United States in World War II demonstrated the overwhelming destructive potential of nuclear weapons
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; guided missileguided missile,
self-propelled, unmanned space or air vehicle carrying an explosive warhead. Its path can be adjusted during flight, either by automatic self-contained controls or remote human control. Guided missiles are powered either by rocket engines or by jet propulsion.
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; hydrogen bombhydrogen bomb
or H-bomb,
weapon deriving a large portion of its energy from the nuclear fusion of hydrogen isotopes. In an atomic bomb, uranium or plutonium is split into lighter elements that together weigh less than the original atoms, the remainder of the mass
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; nuclear energynuclear energy,
the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom and released through fission, fusion, or radioactivity. In these processes a small amount of mass is converted to energy according to the relationship E = mc2, where E is energy, m
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; nuclear physicsnuclear physics,
study of the components, structure, and behavior of the nucleus of the atom. It is especially concerned with the nature of matter and with nuclear energy.
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.

Bibliography

See L. Martin, The Changing Face of Nuclear Warfare (1987); S. M. Younger, The Bomb (2009); D. Albright, Peddling Peril (2010).

References in periodicals archive ?
In 2015, the Philippine government reiterated this position in a statement at the UN: 'We will continue to state the strong case for the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and tirelessly call for the start of a process .
We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time.
This is also in line with the realization of the objective of the very first resolution of this Assembly that called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons tests are generally broken into different categories reflecting the test's medium or location.
Our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality," said Guterres in a message delivered on his behalf by High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu at an annual memorial held in Hiroshima, Japan, for the victims of the atomic bomb dropped on August 6, 1945 in the city.
To put everything into perspective, it should be acknowledged that even before the crisis in Ukraine, the withdrawal of nuclear weapons was opposed by the Eastern European NATO member states, especially the Baltic States.
349, expressing the full support of the Senate of the Philippines in the appeal of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
In it, the United States spoke of the purported "negative effects of seeking to ban nuclear weapons without consideration of the overarching international security environment.
Thakur blends an unwavering moral commitment to eliminating nuclear weapons with a careful, nuanced interpretation of the political and security challenges that give rise to the decisions of states to adopt nuclear weapons or defer disarmament.
Opponents fear that the accord's defects will encourage other countries to pursue nuclear weapons and further weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, the main global treaty against the further militarization of nuclear technologies.
Speaking at the United Nations on the sidelines of a meeting on nuclear arms non-proliferation, he said there absolute numbers of nuclear weapons, worldwide, has decreased, "But the threat posed by nuclear weapons is no less important today than it was during my childhood.
Our Make Nuclear Weapons the Target campaign has reached more than one million people through social media.

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