Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: A Reference Handbook

Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: A Reference Handbook

Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: A Reference Handbook

Nuclear Weapons and Nonproliferation: A Reference Handbook

Excerpt

As of 2007, nine countries possess approximately 27,000 nuclear weapons. The United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea are known to have nuclear arsenals; a tenth country, South Africa, built and then dismantled six atomic bombs in the early 1990s. Other states, such as Iran, are suspected of pursuing clandestine weapon programs. However, approximately thirty nations with the technological capability to build nuclear weapons have not done so for various practical and political reasons, although their calculations may change if the international security environment shifts and more states test such weapons. Finally, nonstate groups, such as al Qaeda and Aum Shinrikyo have tried to acquire nuclear or radiological weapons. While states seek nuclear weapons for military deterrence and as status symbols, terrorists pursue them as the ultimate means of causing destruction, fear, and panic.

Although nuclear weapons have not been used in war since 1945, the large nuclear arsenals still held, particularly by the United States and Russia, continue to influence not only international relations but also human culture and psychology. The frightening power of nuclear weapons holds out the lure of ultimate security and status to national leaders, but the presence of nuclear weapons brings with it the risk of possible nuclear accidents, terrorism, war, and annihilation. This duality of nuclear weapons encompasses the deterrent role supporters believe they play, as well as the global threat they represent to those who seek their elimination. This book covers the development of nuclear weapons and the various efforts aimed at controlling and eliminating them.

Chapter 1 provides a history of the development and spread of nuclear weapons, ranging from the U.S. Manhattan Project to . . .

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