Nuclear weapons are weapons of mass destruction. The Manhattan project gets the most of the credit for the birth of these lethal weapons. And, they have threatened mankind since then. A nuclear warfare at present is not likely to happen but who knows?Nuclear Warfare

Nuclear Warfare

A nuclear warfare is a conflicting situation in which nuclear weapons are used to attack one another. Although it is not likely to happen any time soon, we cannot rule out possibilities. With nine countries equipped with a total of nearly 14,000 nuclear warheads, we can only pray to avoid nuclear war.

According to world history, only nuclear warfare happened was an American strike over Japan during World War II. In 1945, America deployed two nuclear bombs, little boy and fat man on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This mass destruction event was a major event turning point in shaping the future of nuclear warfare.

The powerful countries invested more on nuclear weapons and acquired many. For some time there was a competition in developing nuclear warheads and testing them. Finally, this competition culminated with the countries having nuclear warheads coming in consent for signing a treaty called Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). This treaty forbids countries to produce and research on nuclear weapons but every country is not part of it.

India, Pakistan, and Israel still haven’t signed on it and North Korea has already been out of it. So, there is still a possibility of nuclear warfare due to these actively nuclear-armed countries on the loose.

The country-wise possession of nuclear warheads at present

United States of America and Russia are the major countries with nuclear warheads. They have almost 90 percent of the total nuclear warheads present in the world. The other countries with possession of nuclear warheads are United Kingdom, France, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel, and China.

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According to the Arms Control Association, Russia and the USA have 6,490 and 6,185 nuclear warheads respectively. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom, France, China, Pakistan, Israel, India, and North Korea have 200, 300, 290, 160, 90,140 and 30 nuclear warheads respectively.

Is nuclear warfare likely to happen?

We cannot say that nuclear warfare is not going to happen. Although people of modern world are more conscious of maintaining peace in the world, there are some aggressive regimes in the world who don’t play by the rules. These countries are actively participating in nuclear weapons development. So, anything can happen unless all of these weapons are

UN has been a powerful organization and has always a key role in maintaining peace in the world. As the UN is getting stronger and the realization of the public of the cons of nuclear war from the second world war, the chances of nuclear warfare are low. But, unless all existing nations sign NPT, there is always fear of nuclear weapons being used in a war.

Power of nuclear weapon

The power of nuclear weapons is measured in terms of energy it releases. The major reaction can be either nuclear fusion or nuclear fission. These reactions release energy on the basis of the mass-energy relationship of Albert Einstein. According to it, 1 gram of Uranium (one of the fissile material) can liberate energy equivalent to 13.46 barrels of oil. The fusion bombs are even more powerful.

The energy released is very large. So, it is calculated in comparison with the amount of TNT required for liberating the same amount of energy. The greatest ever nuclear weapon tested released 210,000 Terajoules of energy. It was the Tsar bomba tested by Russia in 1961. Its explosion energy was equivalent to 50 thousand kilotonnes of TNT.

How deadly can nuclear warfare be at present?

The advanced nuclear weapons have not been tested after the signing of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996. Nuclear weapon activities halted from then for the major countries in the race, USA and Russia. The power of nuclear weapons has been at a constant level from then, since the countries not signing the treaty have not advanced as USA and Russia.

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Considering the energy released by nuclear weapons stated above, the destruction is colossal. A bomb as powerful as the Tsar Bomba can destroy everything within a radius of 3-5 kilometers by its fireball, whereas the shock-wave can affect as far as 100 kilometers.

These weapons does not only affect the area of detonation but the radioactivity resulting from fissile materials can affect entire ecosystem over a large range. Radioactivity can cause different diseases and cause an anomaly in the birth of new ones. So, the detonation of numerous bombs like this has the potential to destroy life on Earth.

Although there have not been significant development in nuclear warheads in recent years, the weapons built are already the deadliest. The recent developers, India, North Korea and Pakistan are far behind the USA and Russia. But also, the entire world is in threat of nuclear warfare unless all the weapons are dismantled or all the weapons are kept under a single authority. A nuclear war at this moment may destroy humanity.

Einstein said, “I do not know with what weapons world war III will be fought but, world war IV will be fought with stick and stones.” This statement was said in 1949. But its been 70 years and the world is much different. If nuclear warfare is induced at this moment, the fate of mankind will be in jeopardy. So, the real question is – will we be there for world war IV if world war III happens?

Nuclear warheads can be useful in some circumstances too. Dismantling all the weapons isn’t an option because we must have a nuclear arsenal in case we have to deal some large asteroid impact. So, the nuclear weapons should be locked and must be used only when the world is in need.


Ashwin Khadka is a Physics graduate from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a science enthusiast, researcher and writer. Apart from writing he is also a researcher, with specialization on thin films for electrodes in solar cells.

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