An overview of nuclear weapons

Fortunately, these materials are not found in nature and are difficult to produce. Unlike those publications, this table is updated continuously as new information becomes available.

U.S. Department of State

Beginning with the Partial Test Ban Treaty and continuing through the Comprehensive Test Ban Treatythere have been many treaties to limit or reduce nuclear weapons testing and stockpiles. Since relying solely on natural decay of plutonium is too risky, the certainty provided by a neutron initiator is needed.

According to an advisory opinion issued by the International Court of Justice inthe use of or threat of use of such weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, but the court did not reach an opinion as to whether or not the threat or use would be lawful in specific extreme circumstances such as if the survival of the state were at stake.

This publication was made possible by a grant from the John D. The nuclear weapon states have largely treated that aspect of the agreement as "decorative" and without force.

As tensions increased, Kennedy eventually ordered U. Fusion reactions power the sun and the stars. While some, like General Douglas MacArthurargued nuclear weapons should be used during the Korean Warboth Truman and Eisenhower opposed the idea.

On June 14,China detonated its first hydrogen bomb. Premier Khrushchev writes to President Kennedy in a telegram on October 26, saying that, "Consequently, if there is no intention to tighten that knot and thereby to doom the world to the catastrophe of thermonuclear war, then let us not only relax the forces pulling on the ends of the rope, let us take measures to untie that knot.

This enables more material to fission before the device blows itself apart. If a terrorist group exploded just one nuclear weapon, hundreds of thousands of people could die. The fusion of deuterium and tritium, both heavy isotopes of hydrogen, releases energy as well as a neutron with seven times more energy than a fission neutron.

Even in countries such as France, Japan, and the United States, security measures for protecting weapon-usable materials from theft are probably inadequate to protect against contemporary terrorist threats.

Cold War — During the mids, the U. The implosion design can also be used with HEU, allowing a smaller device to achieve the same yield as a gun-type device.

Nuclear weapon

The detonation of any nuclear weapon is accompanied by a blast of neutron radiation. Over the next 10 years, the Soviet Union and U. Surrounding a nuclear weapon with suitable materials such as cobalt or gold creates a weapon known as a salted bomb. In connection with the Strategic Defense Initiativeresearch into the nuclear pumped laser was conducted under the DOD program Project Excalibur but this did not result in a working weapon.

The end of the Cold War[ edit ] Main article: Because the effect is produced by high altitude nuclear detonations, it can produce damage to electronics over a wide, even continental, geographical area.

These events led to much political fallout, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis in Every collision also releases more neutrons, which in a critical mass of fissile material will sustain a chain reaction of fission. Since Pakistan did not initially have plutonium production capability, it is assumed that HEU was used for the tests it conducted in This flash of energy can permanently destroy or disrupt electronic equipment if insufficiently shielded.

Plutonium If a country or sub-state actor chooses to build nuclear weapons, its design choices will be constrained by the type of fissile material that it can obtain.

Treaties[ edit ] Inboth the U. Boosting has led to a hundred-fold increase in the efficiency of fission weapons sinceand it plays a role in nearly every nuclear weapon deployed today.

Nuclear arms race

Although it has now developed centrifuge enrichment capability, India claims that all HEU is intended for naval propulsion. Consequently, Iran has significant experience with the effects of chemical warfare CW.

The policy of trying to prevent an attack by a nuclear weapon from another country by threatening nuclear retaliation is known as the strategy of nuclear deterrence.

Missile Following the Iran-Iraq war, Iran committed itself to the development of one of the most sophisticated ballistic missile programs in the Middle East. In large, megaton-range hydrogen bombs, about half of the yield comes from the final fissioning of depleted uranium.

We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all. Tons of Russian nuclear materials are stored under inadequate security. However, the main threat posed by thermonuclear weapons is their ability to pack huge amounts of explosive power into small, light-weight packages that can be delivered by missiles.

Other types Main articles:A. Use of nuclear weapons under international law 5 1. In the conduct of hostilities 5 2. Accountability for use of nuclear weapons under international law 7 3.

Outside a situation of armed conflict 7 4. Use under jus ad bellum 8 B. Disarmament, non-proliferation, and the nuclear-weapons-free zones 10 1.

Status of World Nuclear Forces

Disarmament law obligations 10 2. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.

The nuclear arms race was a competition for supremacy in nuclear warfare between the United States, the Soviet Union, and their respective allies during the Cold War. During this period, in addition to the American and Soviet nuclear stockpiles, other countries developed nuclear weapons, though none engaged in warhead production on nearly the same scale as the two superpowers.

Overview The Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime. It entered into force inand states have subscribed.

Types of Nuclear Weapons

An overview of the threat of terroists obtaining nuclear weapons. Of all the terrorist threats facing the United States and the world, perhaps the gravest is the possibility of terrorists constructing or obtaining a nuclear weapon and detonating it in a city. A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission (fission bomb) or from a combination of fission and fusion reactions (thermonuclear bomb).

Both bomb types release large quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter.

An overview of nuclear weapons
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