Nuclear Weapons


    From the beginning, nuclear weapons have both terrified and fascinated mankind. Fear of the bomb motivated the first atomic program in the early 1940’s. The allure of the bomb’s power later propelled national leaders to build even larger bombs and arsenals. Today, fear of a nuclear attack by terrorists or another country has made nuclear proliferation one of the main security threats facing the United States and many other nations. Yet several countries still maintain extensive nuclear arsenals developed for another era, develop plans for new weapons, and postulate new nuclear missions. Leaders in several other nations, motivated by their own perceived security needs as well as by a desire for symbols of power and status, covet the weapons now denied them.
    It was simpler twenty years ago when countries with nuclear weapons meant the United States and Russia. The two countries had massive stockpiles of nuclear warheads ready to go at the touch of a button. It was getting completely out of control and needed some kind of regulation and policy before we blew ourselves up with paranoia and propaganda. Then president, Ronald Reagan, wanted to reduce the number of nuclear weapons during the cold war and with cooperation from Russia developed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. The first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty or “START I”, was signed in 1991. “START I” has been implemented by both countries and has reduced the number of deployed strategic warheads from about 11,000 for Russia and 13,000 for the United States to about 8,000 on each side, (National Academy of Sciences staff, 1997, p 34). START II, signed in 1993 and ratified by the United States in early 1996, has further limited the actual number of deployed strategic warheads to 3,000 to 3,500 on each side, (National Academy of Sciences staff, 1997, p 34). Through unilateral actions, the United States has reduced the number of its deployed nonstrategic warheads by 90...