Nuclear weapons. Without a doubt, the deadliest form of weapon man has ever invented, capable of killing millions of people and annihilating entire cities. They are inhumane weapons that carry catastrophic effects when used which are present for many years after the explosion. Despite this, there are thousands of nuclear weapons in possession of several nations around the world. Even if these weapons of mass destruction were never actually used for the purpose of causing harm, their very existence still carries significant consequences. I firmly believe that the only way to bring an end to the needlessly harmful effects that such weapons carry is a ban on both their use and possession or at least a reduction in countries nuclear arsenal and in this essay I will be explaining why.
Obviously, one of the main arguments against the possession and use of nuclear weapons is their devastating effect on both the people and the environment. So far, the only use of nuclear weapons for the purpose of warfare was the USA’s use of atomic bombs in Japan during the events of World War 2. These bombs were relatively small compared to the weapons possessed by some nations today, but their use still had catastrophic effects. After the bomb ironically named “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, 5 square miles of the city was destroyed, 70,000 – 80,000 people were immediately and mercilessly killed by the blast. Others died either from the collapsing buildings or from the intense radiation exposure. The suffering did not end there, the increased radiation levels in the area caused a massive increase in the cancer occurrences in people and birth deformities. The environment was also inevitably affected; the radioactive fallout caused plants and wildlife to be affected. While this may seem bad, the technological advances in society today has spawned even more destructive and dangerous nuclear weapons that, if used would have effects far worse than what was seen during World War 2.
In addition, some scientists hypothesise that a small scale nuclear war between India and Pakistan would result in megatons of black carbon being released into the atmosphere, causing what scientists call a “Nuclear Winter”. This would lead to global temperatures falling and we would receive 9% less rain every year. This would ultimately cause crop failure worldwide and an estimated 2 billion people would starve. Chemical reactions would also occur in the atmosphere which would thin the Earth’s ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. In a couple of years after the nuclear exchange, the ozone layer would be approximately 20 to 25 percent thinner. The decreased protection from UV radiation from the sun would lead to an increased occurrence of skin cancer in people and a further amount of crop failure.
Furthermore, possessing and maintaining nuclear weapons is also very costly, the scientists have high salaries and the materials are expensive. The weapons need to be continuously maintained and money also needs to be spent on waste management. The UK spends an enormous £2 billion each year on running and maintaining Trident (the UK’s nuclear weapon arsenal). That is around the amount spent on the NHS each week. There are also discussions on whether the Trident submarines should be replaced. This would cost around £100 billion. That is a massive amount of money which could be much better spent on essential services such as healthcare and education. This is especially important considering the financial crisis that the NHS is in which may force them to abandon free healthcare for the public unless they get more funding. Needless to say, this would have a very undesirable effect on the public.
One of the most popular arguments for the possession of nuclear weapons is that they are very useful as deterrents and help to maintain peace between nations. In order for the idea of nuclear deterrence to be effective, we must assume that all nation leaders think the best interest of the people of their country. However, it is well known that some nations do not play by this very delicate ruleset. These include terrorist organisations. This is a gamble on millions of human lives that is not worth taking. Because most nuclear threats come from dictatorships and terrorist organisations instead of genuine governments, it would be morally wrong to cold-bloodedly kill tens of thousands of civilians because of the actions of a select few. There is also the risk of accidental firings because of mistakes, errors in calculations or moments of panic. The fact that just one single mistake or irrational decision can take the lives of millions of people is yet another reason why it is wrong for anyone to possess such weaponry.
The possession of nuclear weapons also brings about the risk of loss or theft. With the growing nuclear arsenal of nations such as Russia, other nations may find it necessary to upgrade their nuclear arsenal to counteract the possible threat. An increased number of nuclear weapons means a greater risk of them being stolen, lost or even worse, detonated. This issue is becoming increasingly more important with the new president of the United States Donald Trump wanting his country’s nuclear arsenal to be above all else. This nuclear superiority the US desires will surely increase the tension between nations and amplify the risk of a nuclear attack or accident.
In conclusion, the possession of nuclear weapons will continue to bring its vast array of disadvantages, whether that be the catastrophic effects that a nuclear weapon explosion could bring. Using valuable money that could be much better spent elsewhere such as in healthcare or education. Or by being the cause of many conflicts and suffering across the world. As long as nations possess nuclear weaponry, they will most likely be used again, either on purpose or by accident. The only way to prevent this would be for nuclear weapons to follow the same fate as chemical and biological weapons and receive a worldwide ban on both their possession and use.