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17.9 Reduction of Weapons: Nuclear and Conventional

When any nation builds its arms stock other nations are forced to do the same in fear and for the sake of defense. Alliances are formed on this basis and such alliances often lead to war. It is imperative that measures be taken to ensure disarmament.

The leading world powers’ expenditure on weapons is astronomical. The military expenditure of the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 was 293 billion and 260 billion dollars respectively. A recent World Bank Report discloses that the world spends more than one trillion dollars (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) on the military and its upkeep. Developing countries also spend huge amounts on defense.

Conventional weapons did cause destruction, however their effects were limited. Modern nuclear weapons have ghastly after effects. Hence disarmament is of utmost importance today.

On August 6, 1945, America released an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan. The fiery ball with a temperature of one million degrees centigrade transformed the place into a furnace, causing colossal destruction leaving 78,150 dead. The effects of atomic radiation, intense heat and the blinding light of the explosion were infertility, temporary impairment of vision and cancer in those who could come through the disaster. High levels of radiation emit from the bombarded sites because of which these places have become useless for dwelling. Besides, air and water carry the radioactive particles to places far from the site and cause damage to all living creatures alike.

Radioactivity causes genetic changes also and results in the birth of babies with grotesque forms. The world powers today have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads whose destructive capability equals a million Hiroshima bombs. A nuclear war may, thus, mean the total annihilation of our planet.

It was the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters that aroused world opinion for disarmament. Formerly it was only the US that had nuclear capability. Today countries like Israel, Brazil, South Africa, India and Pakistan have acquired nuclear potential. In fact, in May 1998 both the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan who are not signatories to the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) exploded nuclear devices to test their capabilities. Efforts are on to get them to agree to sign the CTBT at the earliest.

The amount of money spent by developing countries on nuclear arms is disturbing because more acute problems like unemployment, malnutrition, disease and poverty are neglected. Here is where the UN should step in firmly.

[next chapter]


17.0 - Introduction
17.1 - The Development of the Cold War
17.2 - The Cold War between 1945 and 1947
17.3 - The Cold War between 1947 and 1953
17.4 - The Cold War between 1953 and 1963
17.5 - The Cold War between 1963 and 1970
17.6 - The period of Detente(1970 - 1980)
17.7 - The Cold War after 1980
17.8 - The meaning of Disarmament
17.9 - Reduction of weapons Nuclear and Conventional
17.10 - Disarmament and the UN
17.11 - The Hazards of Nuclear War
17.12 - The Non-Military Dimension of Nuclear Energy
17.13 - Dates & Events

Chapter 18


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