Sunday, 6 July 2014

Why Do We Still Have So Many Nuclear Weapons?

In 1984, at the height of the Cold War, the Doomsday clock moved its hands to 3 minutes to midnight as US-Russian relations hit an all time low and Ronald Reagan announced a space-based anti-ballistic missile capability.
In 1991 the clock moved to 17 minutes to midnight as the Cold War officially ended and nuclear bomb owning countries began making cuts to their nuclear arsenals which stood at 70,000 nuclear warheads globally.
Considering the damage just one nuclear weapon can cause, the thought of 70,000 of them is scary enough but 23 years on and after a raft of disarmament agreements, according to the Federation of American Scientists we still have approximately 17,300 nuclear weapons globally ready to be aimed and fired.
Russia has the most with 8,500, then the United States (7,700), France (300), China (250), UK (225) Israel (100), Pakistan (100), India (90) and North Korea (10).
There are a few who argue that we still need to retain our nuclear weapons although recent years has seen terrorist attacks in America, UK, China and Russia so the possession of nuclear weapons does not make a state secure and are absolutely no use against terrorists.
It is hard to make a case of why in the 21st Century we still need nuclear arms apart from the status it provides but America hold the dubious honour of being the only country to use nuclear weapons but with India and Pakistan not as stable as they could be and North Korea making regular bellicose statements and Israel in a constant state of warmongering with its neighbours, they may not be the last.
Throw in the horror of an accident, and recent examples show just how close we have come to wiping ourselves out with our own nuclear weapons, and it appears that we are holding on to these extraordinarily dangerous weapons not out of necessity but because of the cachet and feeling of superiority it gives us. 
As the people who would give the decisions to use the weapons would be the safest ones in their countries as they retreat to secure nuclear bunkers, it does seem a huge risk to hold onto weapons we will never likely use at huge expense and massive danger to us all just for a lift to our fragile diplomatic status.

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