The Politics of Nuclear Weapons
Publication Year: 2015
Subject: Nuclear Power / Arms Control
This book provides an introduction to political and strategic aspects of nuclear weaponry. It offers an accessible overview of the concept of nuclear weapons, outlines how thinking about these weapons has developed and considers how nuclear threats can continue to be managed in the future.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: What are Nuclear Weapons?
- Chapter 2: Testing, Defining and Delivering Nuclear Weapons
- Chapter 3: Nuclear Proliferation: Why States Build or don't Build the Bomb
- Chapter 4: Nuclear Strategy: Understanding the MADness
- Chapter 5: Vertical Proliferation Challenges: Assessing Article VI of the NPT
- Chapter 6: Horizontal Proliferation Challenges: The Nuclear Outliers
- Chapter 7: Managing Nuclear Proliferation Challenges: Limiting, Preventing and Defending
- Chapter 8: Nuclear Weapons and New Global Actors
- Chapter 9: Nuclear Disarmament
- Chapter 10: Enduring Nuclear Challenges
- Conclusion: Surviving our Nuclear Future
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© Andrew Futter 2015
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About the Author
There are many people to thank in putting this book together, but particular mention must be made of Wyn Bowen, Stephen Cimbala, Oliver Daddow, James Davidson, David Dunn, Stephen Ellis, Tom Fretwell, Nicola Horsburgh, Michael McNally, Jamie Missing, Jonna Nyman, Mark Phythian, Nick Ritchie, Nick Wheeler, Arn Wilkins, Heather Williams and Ben Zala, as well as the useful comments from the various anonymous reviewers, and Natalie Aguilera and James Piper at SAGE. Above all this work would not have been possible without the support and guidance of Jon Moran, and of my mum Alison and brother Jack.
[Page 216]Nuclear Weapons Timeline
- Appendix 1: Nuclear weapons timeline
- Appendix 2: Glossary of key terms and acronyms
- Appendix 3: Countries with civilian nuclear power
- Appendix 4: Nuclear weapons in fiction, film and TV
1905 September Albert Einstein publishes his special theory of relativity (E = mc2) 1938 December Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman discover fission in uranium 1939 1 October A letter warning about nuclear weapons by Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard is delivered to US President Franklin Roosevelt 1941 9 October President Roosevelt creates the US Atomic Project 1942 December Enrico Fermi's ‘nuclear pile’ goes critical in Chicago 1945 16 July The USA conducts the Trinity Test in the New Mexico desert 6 August The USA drops the ‘Little Boy’ uranium bomb on Hiroshima 9 August US drops the ‘Fat Man’ plutonium bomb on Nagasaki 1946 January The UN forms the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) June Bernard Baruch outlines a plan for international control of atomic weapons – the so-called ‘Baruch Plan’ August The US McMahon bill prohibits sharing any nuclear information with any other country 1949 4 April The North Atlantic Treaty is signed creating NATO 29 August The Soviet Union detonates its first nuclear device at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan 1950 June The Korean War begins (1950–1953) 1952 3 October The UK conducts its first nuclear test in the Montebello Islands, Australia 31 October The USA explodes its first hydrogen bomb, codenamed ‘Ivy Mike’ 1953 12 August The first Soviet hydrogen bomb test is conducted 8 December The Atoms for Peace programme is launched by US President Dwight Eisenhower 1954 21 January ‘Nautilus’ – the first nuclear-powered submarine – is launched by the USA June The first nuclear power plant is opened in the Soviet Union 1954 March The USA conducts ‘Castle Bravo’ tests in the Marshall Islands 1955 10 May The USSR proposes an nuclear test ban 14 May The Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact) is formed 1956 12 July Indian proposal to end nuclear weapons tests 1957 15 May The UK explodes its first hydrogen bomb 29 July The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is established 26 August The Soviet Union launches the Sputnik satellite into orbit September The Mayak nuclear incident in the Soviet Union Pugwash, SANE and CND are established 1958 July The USA–UK Mutual Defense Agreement (MDA) is signed 10 October The Windscale nuclear reactor catches fire in the United Kingdom 1959 February The first Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) become operational October The first US ICBMs become operational December The first US ballistic missile submarine becomes operational The Antarctic Treaty is signed 1960 13 February The first French nuclear test is conducted in the Algerian desert March The UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) is established in Geneva November The first Soviet ballistic missile submarine is launched 1961 January The Goldsboro nuclear accident in the USA 30 October The Soviet Union tests the Tsar Bomba nuclear device 1962 June The first Permissive Action Links (PALs) are fitted to nuclear weapons 16–28 October The Cuban Missile Crisis brings the world to the edge of nuclear war 18 December The Nassau or ‘Polaris’ agreement is signed between the USA and the UK 1963 5 August The USA, Soviet Union and the UK sign the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) 1964 21 July The declaration of the denuclearisation of Africa 16 October China explodes its first nuclear device 1966 17 January A US bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs crashes at Palomares, Spain 1967 27 January The Outer Space Treaty is signed 14 February A Latin American nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ) is established 1968 1 July The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opens for signature 1969 A secret agreement is reached between the USA and Israel over the Israeli nuclear programme 1971 11 February The Seabed Treaty is signed 1972 26 May Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev sign the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) I and Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty 1974 18 May India detonates a ‘low-yield’ nuclear device under the Rajasthan desert, codenamed ‘Smiling Buddah’ 3 July The nuclear Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) is signed 1975 23 April The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is created 1976 28 May The Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty is signed July A.Q. Khan establishes the Kahn Research Laboratories in Pakistan 1978 May The first UN Conference on Disarmament is convened 1979 28 March The Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in the USA suffers a partial meltdown 18 June The SALT II agreement is signed by the USA and Soviet Union 22 September A suspected South African–Israeli nuclear test takes place in the southern Indian Ocean 1980 October The last atmospheric nuclear test is conducted (by China) 1981 7 June Israel attacks and destroys the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq 1982 29 June The START treaty negotiations begin between the USA and Soviet Union December The Greenham Common protests take place in the UK 1983 23 March Ronald Reagan announces the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) November Able Archer 83 – a huge NATO nuclear exercise – is conducted 1985 6 August The Treaty of Rarotonga creates the South Pacific NWFZ 5 October Sunday Times publishes Mordachai Vanunu's revelations about the secret Israeli nuclear arsenal 1986 April The Chernobyl nuclear reactor suffers a critical meltdown in the Ukraine 11–12 October The Reykjavik summit between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev takes place 1987 8 December The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty is signed by the United States and the Soviet Union 1991 31 July George H.W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev sign the first START Treaty 27 November The Nuclear Threat Reduction Act is passed by the US Congress 4 December Cartagena Declaration creating a NWFZ in Latin America and the Caribbean 25 December The Soviet Union dissolves 1992 20 January A Joint Declaration on Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is signed 17 July The Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty is signed by Russia and NATO 3 August France signs the NPT October The United States announces a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing 1993 3 January The START II Treaty is signed by the USA and Russia March South Africa declares and then renounces nuclear weapons 1995 25 January The Norwegian rocket incident takes place 23 March Negotiations begin on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) May 178 nations renew the NPT in New York December A NWFZ is established in Southeast Asia 1996 11 April The Pelindaba Treaty is signed creating an African NWFZ 10 September The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is adopted by the United Nations 1997 A.Q. Khan begins to transfer nuclear components to Libya 1998 13–15 May India conducts five nuclear weapons tests 28–30 May Pakistan conducts six nuclear weapons tests 31 August North Korea launches the three-stage Taepo-dong ballistic missile over the Sea of Japan December Iraq expels United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspectors 1999 May–June The Kargil War between India and Pakistan takes place 13 October The US Senate fails to ratify the CTBT 2001 11 September Terrorists attack the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in the USA 13 December President George W. Bush announces the US abrogation of the ABM Treaty 2002 24 May The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty between USA and Russia is signed 14 August The Iranian nuclear programme is publicly revealed 2003 10 January North Korea announces its intention to leave the NPT May The Proliferation Security Initiative is launched August The six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear programme begin 19 December Libya agrees to give up its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes 2004 January The A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling network is revealed 28 April UN Security Council Resolution 1540 is signed June A nuclear hotline between India and Pakistan is established 2005 May The third NPT Review Conference is held in New York 18 July The US–India Civil Nuclear Agreement is signed 2006 April Iran announces that it has mastered uranium enrichment 8 October North Korea tests its first nuclear device 2007 4 January The ‘four horsemen of the nuclear apocalypse’ publish their first op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal 6 September Israel attacks a suspected Syrian nuclear weapons facility The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons is established 2008 September The Nuclear Suppliers Group grants India a waiver December The Global Zero campaign is launched 2009 February UK and French ballistic missile submarine, collide in the Atlantic Ocean 5 April US President Barack Obama makes a speech on nuclear disarmament in Prague, Czech Republic July An African NWFZ is announced 2010 8 April The New START Treaty is signed by the USA and Russia 12 April The first Nuclear Security Summit is held in Washington, DC 3–28 May The fourth NPT Review conference takes place in New York June The Stuxnet computer virus is discovered in the Iranian nuclear programme 2011 11 March The Fukushima nuclear disaster takes place in Japan March Germany announces that it will phase out nuclear energy by 2020 2012 26 March The second Nuclear Security Summit is held in Seoul, South Korea 2013 12 February North Korea conducts its third nuclear test 4–5 March A Conference on the Humanitarian Effects of Nuclear Weapons is held in Oslo, Norway 28 November A temporary deal is agreed between the P5+1 and Iran to temporarily freeze certain aspects of Iran's nuclear programme 2014 February Second meeting on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons takes place in Nayarit, Mexico March The third Nuclear Security Summit takes place in The Hague, Netherlands[Page 223]Glossary of Key Terms and Acronyms
For an extensive overview of terms relating to nuclear weapons, readers should consult Rodney Carlisle's ‘Encyclopaedia of the atomic age’ (New York, Facts on Fact Inc: 2001) or Jeffrey Larsen and James Smith's ‘Historical dictionary of arms control’ (Oxford, The Scarecrow Press: 2005).
Able Archer 83
A NATO military exercise in October 1983 that significantly raised tensions between East and West in the Cold War.
Measures taken to lessen the impact of a nuclear attack before detonations (missile and air defence for example).
Additional Protocol (IAEA)
Grants the IAEA legal authority for extra monitoring and verification of nuclear facilities.
A nuclear detonation above the intended target, designed to maximise the extent of blast damage.
Air-launched cruise missile (ALCM)
A cruise missile delivered by an aircraft that can be nuclear armed.
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty
A treaty agreed in 1972 by the USA and USSR to prohibit the deployment of strategic ballistic missile defences. Abrogated by the United States in 2002.
[Page 224]A.Q. Khan network
Nuclear smuggling network established by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan which provided nuclear technology to Pakistan and a number of aspiring nuclear states.
Atom bomb (A-bomb)
A nuclear bomb that uses nuclear fission, such as those dropped on Japan in 1945.
Atoms for Peace
US President Dwight Eisenhower's programme to supply civilian nuclear technology to the world in the 1950s.
A missile that follows a ballistic trajectory before falling to earth to hit its target. Longer-range missiles travel into space.
Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD)
Systems designed to intercept and destroy nuclear-armed missiles in various stages of their flight before they hit their intended target.
A proposal by the United States in the late 1940s to create an international organisation to regulate all nuclear technology.
Bolt from the blue
A nuclear strike without any warning.
Pushing your opponent to the brink of disaster to test their resolve.
The term used to describe accidents involving nuclear-armed aircraft.
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
An organisation that campaigns for the United Kingdom to unilaterally abolish its nuclear weapons.
The mechanism used to separate different isotopes of uranium in order to enrich it.
An area of Pakistan (in the Ras Koh Hills of Balochistan) that gives its name to the nuclear tests conducted there in May 1998.
The process whereby the release of neutrons from one atomic nuclear reaction begins a nuclear reaction in another atom, which then initiatives further atomic reactions.
A civilian nuclear disaster that occurred in the Ukraine in 1986.
The Indian military doctrine that would target Pakistani nuclear forces in the event of nuclear hostilities.
[Page 225]Cold test
(also Sub-critical test) Nuclear test without an explosion.
Military and geopolitical stand-off between a Western bloc led by the United States and NATO against an Eastern bloc led by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, 1945–1991.
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Treaty to eliminate all nuclear testing, which opened for signature in 1996.
Radioactive particles deposited after a nuclear blast that remain harmful and lethal to humans.
Continuation of Government (CoG)
Plans to ensure the continuation of government following a nuclear strike – part of civil defence.
Continuous-at-sea Deterrence (CASD)
Policy adopted by the UK whereby one nuclear ballistic missile armed submarine is always at sea ready to fire its nuclear weapons.
Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities
An international agreement that seeks to protect nuclear materials established in 1980 and updated in 2005.
Targeting strategy based on destroying the enemy's nuclear and military installations.
Targeting strategy based on destroying large population centres.
The necessary amount of fissile material required to sustain a nuclear fission reaction.
Cuban Missile Crisis
US–Soviet crisis over the placement of Soviet nuclear-capable missiles in Cuba in 1962. Regarded as the closest we have ever been to nuclear war.
The name of the semi-autonomous Soviet nuclear response system. Also known as the Perimeter system.
The removal of nuclear forces from instant, hair-trigger alert, and from fire on warning.
The process to remove nuclear weapons from active status in order to dismantle them.
[Page 226]Depleted uranium
High-density material containing very low levels of U235 used for civilian purposes and armour plating and armour-piecing projectiles. Can be produced as a by-product of enrichment.
Ensuring bombs/warheads have no fixed target before they have to be used.
A weapon designed to maximise the distribution of radioactive material via a conventional explosion. Also known as a radiological dispersal device (RDD).
Indication of nuclear threat run by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
Technology that can be used for both civilian and nuclear weapons purposes.
E = mc2
Formula devised by Albert Einstein that paved the way for nuclear energy.
Electromagnetic pulse (EMP)
A burst of energy from a nuclear explosion that is highly destructive to any electric-based equipment.
Enhanced radiation weapon (ERWs)
Weapons designed to maximise radiation rather than blast to kill enemy forces but not destroy infrastructure. The neutron bomb was an example of an ERW.
Name of the B-29 aircraft that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Extended nuclear deterrence
The provision of a nuclear deterrent guarantee by a nuclear-armed state to another state that does not possess nuclear weapons.
Name of the plutonium atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki.
A chemical element able to perform fission (be split).
Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)
Treaty to ban the production of new fissile material (U235 and PU239).
The process whereby a nucleus of an atom is split, emitting excess neutrons.
Force de dissuasion
The name given to the French nuclear weapons force. Previously know as the force de frappe.
[Page 227]Four horsemen of the nuclear apocalypse
Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, William Perry and George Schultz.
The process from mining through to use (in a reaction or weapon) to the reprocessing and storage of nuclear fuel.
Civilian nuclear disaster that occurred at the Fukushima–Daiichi plant in Japan in March 2011.
The process whereby atoms are fused together to create enormous heat and energy – used in a hydrogen bomb.
Instrument for measuring nuclear radiation.
Geneva Interim Agreement
Temporary agreement reached by the P5+1 and Iran in November 2013 to halt parts of the nuclear programme in return for sanctions relief.
Global movement seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear bomb dropped by aircraft that falls to earth to hit its intended target.
Highly enriched uranium (HEU)
Uranium that has been enriched to very high levels of U235 (80 per cent +) for use in a nuclear bomb or warhead.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons to new actors.
Hydrogen bomb (also known as the H-bomb, ‘the super’ or thermonuclear bomb)
A nuclear bomb based on the process of nuclear fusion.
Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)
A missile able to strike targets anywhere in the world in a very short space of time. Normally armed with one or more nuclear warheads.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
International institution set up to promote and regulate the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
International fuel bank
(also known as nuclear fuel bank) is a proposal to manage the supply of enriched uranium.
A variation of a chemical element with a different number of neutrons.
The name of the first Soviet atomic bomb exploded in 1949. Also known as RDS 1.
[Page 228]Kargil War
The only time two nuclear-armed states (India and Pakistan) have fought each other directly (in 1999).
The unit of measurement equal to one thousand tonnes of conventional explosive.
Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT)
The 1963 treaty banning nuclear testing in the atmosphere, in space and under water. Also known as the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT).
The name of the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945.
Nuclear weapons or material not accounted for after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Low-enriched uranium (LEU)
Uranium enriched to low levels of U235 to be used in a nuclear reactor (typically around 5 per cent).
The name of the US-led programme to build the first atomic bombs.
Unit of measurement equal to one million tonnes of conventional explosive.
The consequence of a nuclear reactor overheating, where fissile products are released.
Smallest number of weapons needed to retain a credible nuclear posture.
Mixed oxide fuel (MOX)
Mixture of reprocessed uranium and plutonium fuel that can be used in a nuclear reactor.
Multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV)
Missile with multiple nuclear warheads that can be targeted individually.
Large distinctive cloud produced by a nuclear explosion.
Mutual assured destruction (MAD)
Condition whereby nuclear weapons will not be used against another nuclear-armed actor because to do so would be suicidal.
North Atlantic Treaty (NATO)
A multi-national military and defence organisation established in 1949.
[Page 229]Neutron bomb
A bomb designed to maximise radiation and effects on humans while minimising its effect on infrastructure.
New START Treaty
The treaty between the United States and Russia signed in 2010 limiting deployed strategic nuclear forces.
No first use (NFU)
A declared policy not to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict.
Non-Aligned Movement (NAM)
A large group of states not aligned to any major power block, critical of the lack of progress made towards disarmament by the NWS.
A state signatory to the NPT that can never possess nuclear weapons under the treaty.
Norwegian Rocket Incident
A nuclear scare in 1995 after Russian leaders mistook a Norwegian rocket launch for a NATO nuclear missile strike.
The condition whereby under the NPT some states can legally have nuclear weapons while others cannot.
Using the threat of nuclear weapons to deter nuclear use by another actor.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
The treaty opened for signature in 1968 with three main pillars: (1) signatories must work towards nuclear disarmament; (2) all signatories have the right to civilian nuclear power; (3) states must not proliferate nuclear weapons or materials to others.
The policy adopted by Israel of neither confirming nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)
A multinational body that controls the manufacture and sale of nuclear-related material and technologies.
A normative concept that has developed against any use of nuclear weapons.
The by-products of nuclear fission reactions that must be suitably disposed of.
A weapon that derives its power from the nucleus of an atom of a particular chemical isotope.
[Page 230]Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC)
A proposed multilateral treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons.
Nuclear-weapon free zone (NWFZ)
A geographical zone where the manufacture, testing, deployment and stockpiling of nuclear weapons is prohibited.
Nuclear-weapon state (NWS)
One of the five states legally recognised as possessing nuclear weapons under the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China).
The possible result of large-scale nuclear use leading to reduced sunlight and cold weather for a sustained period, which in turn could lead to death and environmental destruction.
The US programme to develop nuclear devices for peaceful construction and engineering purposes.
An Iraqi nuclear reactor attacked by Israel in 1981.
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Also the five recognised nuclear weapons states under the NPT (the USA, Russia, the UK, France and China).
An initiative to facilitate steps towards nuclear disarmament by the P5 as warranted by the NPT.
Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT)
See Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT).
Measures taken to lessen the impact of a nuclear attack once it has happen (bomb shelters, emergency response, etc.).
Peaceful nuclear explosions (PNEs)
Nuclear detonations for non-military purposes.
Permissive Action Links (PALs)
Various mechanisms to ensure nuclear weapons cannot be detonated without proper authorisation.
The code name for the Iraqi nuclear weapons programme initiated in 1990.
Predominantly man-made chemical element that can be used for atomic fission. Plutonium is separated from other products following a nuclear reaction of uranium.
Name given to the Indian nuclear tests – named after the test site in Rajasthan. Pokhran I refers to the ‘peaceful test’ of 1974 and Pokhran II to the overt weapons test of 1998.
The particles released naturally by certain chemical isotopes and through nuclear reactions.
The severe health effects of high exposure to radiation that can lead to various illnesses and death. Also known as acute radiation syndrome (ARS).
The radioactive particles of earth and other material scattered into the air as a result of a nuclear blast, many of which are highly dangerous for humans.
The method used to transform spent nuclear fuel into either new MOX fuel for a reactor or to separate plutonium for a bomb.
Roentgen equivalent man (rem)
Unit used to measure ionising radiation.
The strategy of massive nuclear response purportedly to be adopted by the Israeli government if the existence of the state is threatened.
Ship submersible ballistic nuclear(SSBN)
A nuclear-powered submarine armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.
The diplomatic effort to prevent and then curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions involving the USA, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea (2006–).
The name given to the ‘peaceful’ nuclear test conducted by India in 1974.
The name given to the secret Brazilian nuclear weapons programme.
The name of the first artificial earth orbiting satellite launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.
Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)
A plan to build a shield against ballistic missile attack announced by US President Ronald Reagan.
The computer virus discovered within the Iranian uranium-enrichment programme in 2010.
[Page 232]Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM)
A ballistic missile (which can be nuclear armed) launched from a submarine.
Submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM)
A cruise missile (which can be nuclear armed) launched from a submarine. An SLCM has a far shorter range than an SLBM.
A tactical nuclear weapons that is small enough to be carried by a single person in a backpack.
A theory that suggests that advances in technology drive social and political developments.
The name given to the first nuclear bomb exploded as part of the Trinity Test in 1945.
Three Mile Island
A civilian nuclear reactor meltdown in the United States in 1979.
Threshold nuclear weapons capability
State with the necessary capabilities to build nuclear weapons in a relatively short space of time if it chose to but is not current considered as nuclear armed.
Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT)
Treaty signed in 1974 limiting underground nuclear tests to a maximum of 150kt yield.
The first test of a nuclear weapon in Alamogordo, in the New Mexico desert, USA, in July 1945.
The largest nuclear weapon ever tested – detonated by Russia in October 1961.
The name of the secret British nuclear weapons research programme established in the early 1940s.
A third possible source of fissile fuel for a nuclear reactor bred from thorium.
Ummah Tameer-e-Nau (UTM)
A militant organisation based in Pakistan believed to have discussed supplying Al-Qaeda with nuclear material.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540
The UN resolution agreed in 2004, seeking to prevent the spread of nuclear and other WMD material to non-state actors.
A naturally occurring chemical element that can be enriched to be used in a nuclear reactor or a nuclear weapon. Only U235 can be used in a nuclear bomb.
The process to increase the concentration of the fissile isotope U235 in uranium so that it can be used in a reactor or bomb.
The name of the nuclear weapons project conducted by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
US–India Civil Nuclear Agreement
The agreement signed in 2005 allowing India access to US civilian nuclear technology in return for placing Indian civilian nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. Also known as the 123 Agreement.
Suspected nuclear detonation carried out in the southern Indian Ocean in 1979, widely rumoured to have been a joint South African–Israeli nuclear test.
An increase in the numbers of nuclear weapons held by current nuclear-armed states.
Virtual nuclear-weapon state
A state with latent a nuclear weapons capacity – i.e. it has the fissile material and weapons complex but has not built the bomb.
Placing nuclear waste in a glass compound to ensure its security.
Weapons of mass destruction (WMD)
Usually refers to nuclear, but also includes chemical, biological and radiological weapons. Anything designed to cause mass casualties and destruction.
The first major nuclear accident in the UK in 1957 after a civilian power reactor caught fire.
Material containing partially refined uranium oxide.
Measurement of energy released in a nuclear explosion.[Page 234]Countries with Civilian Nuclear Power
Nuclear Reactors Total Capacity (MW) USA 100 98,560 France 58 63,130 Japan 50 44,215 Russia 33 23,643 Republic of Korea 23 20,739 India 21 5,308 Canada 19 13,500 China 18 13,860 United Kingdom 16 9,231 Ukraine 15 13,107 Sweden 10 9,474 Germanyi 9 12,608 Spain 8 7,567 Belgium 7 5,927 Czech Republic 6 3,804 Taiwan 6 5,028 Switzerland 5 3,308 Finland 4 2,752 Hungary 4 1,889 Slovakia 4 1,816 Pakistan 3 725 Argentina 2 935 Brazil 2 1,884 Bulgaria 2 1,906 Mexico 2 1,330 Romania 2 1,200 South Africa 2 1,860 Armenia 1 375 Iran 1 915 The Netherlands 1 482 Slovenia 1 688 United Arab Emirates Under construction
i Germany has recently declared its intention to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2022 – partly as a result of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. On this see, for example, Detlet Jahn and Sebastian Korolczuk, ‘German exceptionalism: the end of nuclear energy in Germany!’, Environmental Politics, 21:1 (2012) pp.159–164.
Source: See International Atomic Energy Agency, ‘Power Reactor Information System’, www.iaea.org/PRIS/World Statistics/OperationalReactorsByCountry.aspx.[Page 236]Nuclear Weapons in Fiction, Films and TV
Nuclear weapons have a rich history in popular culture, particularly in books, on TV and in film, and a selection of these – along with some non-fiction and official media – are included below. These lists are by no means exhaustive and you might also be interested in Scott Zeman and Michael Amundson (eds.) ‘Atomic culture’ (2004).Fiction‘Arc light’ (1994) A novel by about a limited global nuclear war.Broken Arrow (1996) A Hollywood film about the theft of two nuclear weapons.Countdown to Looking Glass (1984) A made-for-TV film depicting the lead-up to a limited nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union.Crimson Tide (1995) A Hollywood film portraying the stand-off between the captain and the executive officer of a US nuclear-armed submarine following an incomplete nuclear launch order.Dr Strangelove (1964) A black comedy film in which a US airforce officer orders a nuclear first strike on the Soviet Union.‘Fail safe’ (1962) A fictional thriller by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler depicting an accidental nuclear attack by the United States on the Soviet Union as the result of a computer failure. The book was later made into a film (1964 and 2000).Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) A Hollywood film telling the story and re-enacting the Manhattan Project during the Second World War. Released in the UK as Shadow Makers.Hiroshima (1995) A film about the lead-up to the decision to drop the first atomic bomb in 1945.K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) A Hollywood thriller about the disasters that befall a Soviet nuclear submarine.[Page 237]‘London after the bomb’ (1982) A book by , , , and about what London might look like after a nuclear attack.Lucky Dragon No. 5 (1959) A Japanese film based on the shipping vessel that was hit by fallout following US nuclear testing in 1954.Octopussy (1983) A James Bond film about a possible nuclear attack on NATO forces designed to force nuclear disarmament.‘On the beach’ (1957) A novel written by Nevil Shute depicting people in Australia as they await the arrival of deadly radiation from a nuclear exchange in the northern hemisphere. The book was later made into a film (1959) and a TV movie (2000).Special Bulletin (1983) A film based on the fictional live broadcasts of a terrorist plot to blackmail the US government by placing a nuclear bomb in Charleston harbour.The China Syndrome (1979) Thriller about a fictional nuclear meltdown.The Day After (1983) An American television film depicting the build-up to and the effects of a nuclear war between the USA and the Soviet Union on several groups of people living in Missouri.‘The fourth protocol’ (1984) A novel by Frederick Forsyth about a Soviet plot to detonate a nuclear bomb in the United Kingdom weeks before a general election.‘The letter of last resort’ (2012) A play by dealing the decisions taken by UK prime ministers on what to do in the event of nuclear war.‘The sum of all fears’ (1991) A novel by Tom Clancy describing a terrorist plot to detonate a nuclear bomb at an American Super Bowl game. The book was later turned into a Hollywood film of the same name (2002).The War Game (1965) A television docudrama depicting the effects of a nuclear war on the United Kingdom.‘The world set free’ (1914) A novel by predicting a future world dominated by nuclear weapons.‘Third world war’ (1982) A novel written by in the style of a historical account of a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries set in 1985.Thirteen Days (2000) A Hollywood portrayal of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.Threads (1984) A British television drama describing the effects of a nuclear attack on a number of different families in the British city of Sheffield.‘Trinity's child’ (1983) A novel by William Prochnau depicting the events of a fictional Third World War between East and West. It was later turned into film called By Dawn's Early Light (1990).Thunderball (1965) A James Bond film based around the theft of two NATO nuclear weapons.‘Warday’ (1984) A novel by Whitely Strieber and James Kunetka providing a fictional account of a journey across America five years after a limited nuclear attack.War Games (1983) A film about a computer hacker who accidentally begins to initiate a nuclear war by hacking into the Pentagon's supercomputer.When the Wind Blows (1986) A graphic novel by Raymond Briggs that shows the effects of a nuclear attack on a retired couple in the United Kingdom. It was made into an animated film in 2005.‘Z for Zachariah’ (1974) The story of a 16-year-old girl who survives a nuclear war, by . It is to be made into a film in 2015.Non-fictionAmerica's Atomic Bomb Tests (2005) A documentary looking at early Cold War American nuclear testing.Beating the Bomb (2010) A documentary charting the history of the British peace movement and their campaigns against nuclear weapons.Blowing up Paradise (2006) Archival footage chronicling French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific between the 1960s and the 1990s.Countdown to Zero (2010) A documentary film warning against the growing threat of nuclear weapons, particularly from nuclear terrorism.[Page 238]Duck and Cover (1951) An American civil defence film geared towards children.Nuclear Tipping Point (2010) A documentary film making the case for the elimination of nuclear weapons.Protect and Survive (2010) A collection of secret films made by the UK government in the 1970s providing information on what to do in the event of a nuclear war.The Atomic Bomb Movie (1995) A documentary film telling the story of the development and testing of nuclear weapons between 1945 and 1964.The Atomic Café (1982) A documentary film based on archival footage of the early atomic era.
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