Nuclear Weapons: We May Self-Destruct

President John Kennedy’s nightmare of nuclear weapons spreading all over the world has returned to haunt the present. All these years after the end of the Cold War, such weapons are again poised to spread around over the globe, thereby ensuring terrorist possession. And the catastrophe of terrorist use of a such a device in a major city today could be a calamity unparalleled in history.

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 March 2005 4 minute READ

Thomas Graham

Distinguished Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations

Nuclear weapons are becoming a threat even to their owners. In May there is another opportunity to put matters right when the Non-Proliferation Treaty comes up for review.

In last year’s united states presidential elections both President George Bush and Senator John Kerry correctly identified nuclear proliferation, combined with nuclear terrorism, as the principal threat facing the world community. But sixty years into the nuclear era, while most people understand that such weapons are dangerous things, there is no awareness of the degree of danger, or demand for effective action.

Gun bomb

Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb sixty years ago this summer. One hundred and forty thousand people were instantly killed. Including the effects of radiation poisoning, the five-year death total was over two hundred thousand, almost two thirds of the city’s population.

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