Hiroshima, a city of 300,000 people, after being bombed with a “small” nuclear weapon by today’s standards, August 1945
Nuclear weapons are Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). They are designed to destroy entire cities. Even the “smallest” nuclear weapons today are thousands of times more destructive than conventional bombs. Even when supposedly targeting a “military” target, these weapons would cause massive civilian casualties. They are simply too big to be used for any conceivable military purpose.
Nuclear weapons emit large quantities of Radioactivity. Conventional weapons kill and maim people, and destroy buildings and military equipment through the explosive blast and intense heat created. But only nuclear weapons give off intense radiation, in the form of alpha-particles, beta-particles and gamma rays. These kill and maim people by damaging cells and body tissues. They continue to kill and maim long after the explosion has occurred. They get into the water and into the food chain, and continue to kill and injure people and other life forms for years. They travel through the air for very long distances, and get into the upper atmosphere, where they can circulate the entire globe before falling to earth again. And they affect not only the living, but those not yet born, by damaging chromosomes, causing birth defects and miscarriages.
Nuclear weapons are End-of-the-World Weapons. Studies have shown that even a so-called “limited” nuclear war between India and Pakistan would likely throw enough soot into the atmosphere to cause global famine and the death of up to 2 billion people. An all-out nuclear war between the US and Russia would kill hundreds of millions of people within minutes. But it would also cause a “nuclear winter,” with freezing temperatures year-round in major crop-growing regions of the world. Even without taking into account the potentially high levels of radioactive fall-out circling the entire globe, it is unlikely many would survive.
Even one nuclear weapon going off anywhere in the world, whether on purpose or by accident, would create a humanitarian catastrophe of unparalleled proportions. For instance, there are not enough burn beds in the entire United States to cope with the 3rd degree burn victims of even one single small nuclear explosion in any major city. It is also now known that a single nuclear weapon exploded in the upper atmosphere high above the United States would be enough to knock out the electricity grid for the entire country and cause massive damage to computers and other sensitive electronics. This could mean losing control of planes in mid-air, losing control of nuclear power plants, military bases and nuclear missile silos, losing not just power but sensitive instruments and vital statistics in the middle of medical procedures…
The United States and other nuclear-armed nations claim that they “need” nuclear weapons for the purpose of Deterrence. Deterrence is nothing more and nothing less than a threat to use these weapons as a means of persuading a potential attacker not to attack. But there can be no justification for ever using these weapons against any target, under any circumstance whatsoever. And that means there is no justification for threatening to use these weapons, under any circumstance whatsoever. The myth of deterrence is nothing but a pernicious lie, designed to convince the public that it is possible to hold onto these weapons, and to continue to develop and upgrade them, without them ever being used.
There is only one way to ensure nuclear weapons are never used, and that is to eliminate them before that happens.