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Nuclear Weapons On August 1954, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the cites of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing over two hundred thousands instantly and more over time due to radiation and other injuries. These two bombs ended World War II and changed the public’s view of nuclear energy. Those bombs were the only nuclear weapons used in any war, but there were many more detonated for tests.(1) During a speech about the nuclear test ban Kennedy said “Eighteen years ago the advent of nuclear weapons changed the course of the world as well as the war.”(2) The invention of nuclear weapons changed the world by having the ability to destroy the human race, changing how countries fight wars, and building fear into people around the world. A group of scientists from around the world named the Manhattan Project was created by the United States. The projects one goal was to invent the first nuclear weapon, and they successfully tested the first nuclear weapon in 1945. A nuclear weapon is a device that derives its energy from nuclear reactions. These reactions are the breaking and joining of atom bonds which creates tremendous amount of radiation. Nuclear bombs contain uranium atoms, and when detonated they become more powerful than any other weapon ever made.
During the Cold War both the US and the Soviet Union spent millions on inventing new and improved nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have the potential to destroy the human race. The US and Russia have enough nuclear weapons from the Cold War to destroy the human race many times over.(3) In a large nuclear attack it is estimated that fifty million Americans would die and over time more and more would die from radiation.(4) These weapons have the ability to destroy large areas and in a full scale nuclear war could end the human race completely. The United States and Russia have storage facilities of nuclear weapons that equal the explosive power of fifteen tons of TNT for every person on earth.(5) There is no defense system that is able to defend against a major nuclear attack. The chance of a nuclear war increases every year.(6) In the event of a large number of nuclear bombs exploding in a short amount of time it is possibly that it will create a nuclear winter and block out the sun for weeks or months. The nuclear winter would be caused from all the chemicals and debris that would be in the air reducing the amount of sun light that reaches earth.(7) When there is a nuclear explosion, a lot of vaporized radioactive matter is released into the atmosphere. Radiation kills most living things and could damage the world’s food supply by radioactive matter settling back on the ground.(8) If there is ever a large nuclear war, it is very possible that much or the entire world will be destroyed. Nuclear weapons have a very dangerous potential of wiping out countries, and the mere threat of their use, changes the world. During the Cold War, they fought each other with nuclear weapon build up and threats. Before nuclear weapons, countries would fight each other and never had the ability to destroy a whole city or country so quickly or completely. The invention of the nuclear weapon changed modern war fare. The US and Soviet Union used a military strategy called brinkmanship. This strategy was to threaten the use of nuclear weapons to make their opponent back down. In 1949 the Soviet Union tested their first nuclear weapons, and it changed the US monopoly of nuclear weapons and military superiority in the world.(9) Before the Soviet Union tested a nuclear weapon, the US had a very large advantage over the entire world. They used this advantage to scare nations and became the biggest world power. Eisenhower, the president of the United States at the beginning of the Cold War, changed military spending a to develop more nuclear weapons to defend the United States.(10) During the Kennedy administration, the Cuban missile crisis was the closest the US and the USSR ever got to a full scale nuclear war. The Soviet Union put medium range nuclear weapons and launching sites in Cuba. The US took this as a direct threat, and nuclear bombs were nearly launched.(11) The event ended when the US took weapons out of Turkey and the Soviet Union took weapons out of Cuba. Nuclear domination was critical to both nations. Nuclear weapons secrets were sold and the most famous being the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg theft of nuclear secrets in 1950. The FBI called this the biggest crime of the century. The FBI arrested anyone thought to be a Soviet spy and this created a red scare.(12) The potential destruction that results from the use of nuclear weapons has built fear into the world’s population. There is a lot of effort put into controlling and reducing nuclear material and weapons because of this danger. In the 1950’s, there were bomb scares and people from the US and the Soviet Union took precautions to survive a nuclear attack. In schools there were air raid drills that taught children to duck and cover if there was ever a nuclear attack. The Cold War was the first time that people ever really thought the world could end. Even though Americans knew about nuclear weapons, the US government hid a lot of information about atomic bombs from the public.(13) “If our inability to imagine nuclear war inhibits our actions-and ours alone-we will suffer an increased vulnerability to nuclear blackmail from an inhibited opponent.”(14) Nuclear weapons have stored fear into people because of how dangerous these weapons are. The major world powers got together and made the nuclear test ban which banned all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water. These countries did this because they saw the impact on the environment from these tests. The UN and other groups have spent a lot of effort trying to reduce and control nuclear weapons because these weapons could be very dangerous in the hands of terrorists or unstable nations.(15) These weapons in the wrong hands is a very large risk and it is recognized by all the people of the world. The invention of nuclear weapons changed the world by having the ability to destroy the human race, changing how countries fight wars, and building fear into people around the world. The nuclear weapon is an invention that has changed the world and will continuing changing it because of its dangerous capability. During the Cold War, we came very close to a nuclear war that would have changed man kind. This is the most dangerous invention the world has ever known and continues to shape world politics today. “The human race cannot coexist with nuclear weapons.” [Iccho Itoh](16)

Bibliography

"Cold War." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO. http://www.worldhistory.abc-clio.com (accessed March 23, 2008).
Herken, Gregg. “"A Most Deadly Illusion: The Atomic Secret and American Nuclear Weapons Policy, 1945-1950.” The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 49, No. 1. (1980): 51-76. www.jstor.org (accessed March 23, 2008).
Kennedy, John F. " The Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty." Annals of American History. http://america.eb.com/america/article?articleId=387312&query=the+nuclear+test+ban (accessed March 23, 2008).
"Nuclear Weapons." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO. http://www.worldhistory.abc-clio. com (accessed March 23, 2008).
Paarlberg, Rob. “Forgetting about the Unthinkable.” Foreign Policy, No. 10. (1973): 132-140. www.jstor.org (accessed March 23, 2008).
Thinkexist. “Nuclear Weapons Quotes.” http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/nuclear_weapons/
Wald, George. " A Generation Unsure It Has a Future," Annals of American History. http://america.eb.com/america/article?articleId=387406&query=generation+unsure+it+has+a+future (accessed March 23, 2008).

Bibliography: "Cold War." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO. http://www.worldhistory.abc-clio.com (accessed March 23, 2008). Herken, Gregg. “"A Most Deadly Illusion: The Atomic Secret and American Nuclear Weapons Policy, 1945-1950.” The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 49, No. 1. (1980): 51-76. www.jstor.org (accessed March 23, 2008). Kennedy, John F. " The Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty." Annals of American History. http://america.eb.com/america/article?articleId=387312&query=the+nuclear+test+ban (accessed March 23, 2008). "Nuclear Weapons." World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO. http://www.worldhistory.abc-clio. com (accessed March 23, 2008). Paarlberg, Rob. “Forgetting about the Unthinkable.” Foreign Policy, No. 10. (1973): 132-140. www.jstor.org (accessed March 23, 2008). Thinkexist. “Nuclear Weapons Quotes.” http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/nuclear_weapons/ Wald, George. " A Generation Unsure It Has a Future," Annals of American History. http://america.eb.com/america/article?articleId=387406&query=generation+unsure+it+has+a+future (accessed March 23, 2008).

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