Need of taking nuclear vulnerabilities seriously
While Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been the last two cities to be destroyed by nuclear weapons, we cannot be sure that they will be the last.
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
- On August 6, 1945, the US dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, and three days later, on August 9, it dropped another bomb on Nagasaki.
- Those two bombs killed over 2,00,000 people, some of them instantaneously, and others within five months.
- Another 2,00,000 people or more who survived the bombings of these two Japanese cities, most of them injured, have been called the hibakusha.
- Because of the long-lasting effects of radiation exposure as well as the mental trauma they underwent, the plight of these survivors has been difficult.
Potential threat of nuclear weapons currently
- Since 1945, the United States, the Soviet Union/Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea have armed themselves with nuclear weapons.
- These weapons have much more destructive power in comparison to those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
- Over 1,26,000 nuclear weapons have been built since the beginning of the atomic age.
- Also, over 2,000 of them have been used in nuclear tests, above and below the ground, to demonstrate their actual explosive power.
- Various nuclear tests have already done grave and long-lasting damage to the environment and public health.
- However, this damage is nothing compared to what might happen if some of the existing weapons are used against civilian populations.
Instilling a sense of vulnerability among people
- Nuclear weapons could be launched at any moment against any target around the world therefore it instills a sense of vulnerability in all of us.
- Also, there is no realistic way to protect ourselves against nuclear weapons, whether they are used deliberately, inadvertently, or accidentally.
- The invention of ballistic missiles at the end of the 1950s, with their great speed of delivery, has made it impossible to intercept nuclear weapons once they are launched.
The idea of deterrence and associated problems
- Nuclear weapon states have reacted to the associated vulnerability by coming up with the idea of deterrence: that the use of nuclear weapons is impossible because of deterrence.
- Nuclear weapons are so destructive that no country would use them, because such use would invite retaliation in kind.
- Therefore no political leader would be willing to risk the possible death of millions of their citizens.
- Deterrence enthusiasts claim that nuclear weapons do not just protect countries against the use of nuclear weapons by others, but even prevent war and promote stability.
However, These claims do not hold up to the evidence.
- On the contrary, nuclear threats in some cases have produced anger, and anger can trigger a drive to escalate, as was the case with Fidel Castro during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- Also, all nuclear-weapon states have admitted to the possibility that deterrence could fail: they have made plans for using nuclear weapons, in effect, preparing to fight a nuclear war.
- Therefore the goal, the wish, really might be to prevent nuclear war, but the operational plan had to be to wage war.
No possibility to have absolute control
- In the real world, it is not possible for planners to have complete control on nuclear weapons.
- In several historical instances, what prevented the use of nuclear weapons was not control practices but either their failure or factors outside institutional control.
- The most famous of these cases is the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.