Introduction and Charter of the Nuclear Weapons Archive

Updated 20 August 2003

At the time of the Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf remarked: "War is a profanity because, let's face it, you've got two opposing sides trying to settle their differences by killing as many of each other as they can."

Which brings us to nuclear weapons...

The purpose of this archive is to illuminate the reader regarding the effects of these destructive devices, and to warn against their use.

At this time, although the threat of a nuclear world war has receded, there are other threats to our tentative peace which have emerged. These involve regional conflicts, and the activities of terrorist parties or nations. They involve issues such as plutonium smuggling, and the sale of weapons technology (possibly clandestine) to militaristic nations.

We have indications of changes both good and bad:

During the 1990s it became almost obligatory for nations to sign on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In the 1970s and 80s, there many states that had not joined, but in the early 90s this shrank to a small number of hold-outs.

The nuclear armed nation of South Africa voluntarily disarmed itself, and nuclear weapons programs in Argentina and Brazil were abandoned.

The 1996 ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by the UN General Assembly proised to be a major step toward halting further horizontal or vertical nuclear proliferation. But at the same time, the circumstances of its approval give considerable cause for concern.

India dropped its long time support for CBTB, dating back to the days of Jawarhalal Nehru at the establishment of the Non-Aligned Nations in the early 1950s. Not only did it not support the treaty, it vehemently opposed it, and did everything to in its power to wreck the approval process. Although India offered a lofty rationale for these actions - it claimed its opposition stemmed from a failure of the treaty to set a schedule for abolishing all nuclear weapons - even at the time the advanced state of India's preparations for nuclear testing suggested a different agenda. India's conduct of multiple nuclear tests in 1998, and its open declaration of itself as a nuclear armed power removed all uncertainty regarding its objectives, and prompted Pakistan to follow suit.

Since then the United States Senate has blocked adoption of the CBTB. North Korea has moved to the brink of declaring itself a nuclear armed state (and likely already possesses them), and Iran now appears to be in the final stages of development of a nuclear weapons capability. U.S. intervention in Iraq to overthrow the Hussein regime, while treating North Korea with circumspection has provided inducement for any nation at odds with the U.S. to acquire nuclear weapons to protect its own soverignty. Similarly, the upgrading of U.S. relations with India after its test of a thermonuclear bomb has confirmed that nuclear armament is indeed a source status and respect on the international stage.

The chain of action and reaction leading to the spread of nuclear armaments is disheartening:

We are extremely fortunate that none of 130,000 or so nuclear weapon built since World War II have been used for anything more destructive than intimidation and testing.

It seems though, on the evidence, that claims made long ago that this is a weapon that makes war too terrible to contemplate, and will ensure world peace, may in fact be largely true. No nation, and no nation's leaders, have been willing to risk nuclear attack.

The possibility of grievous error remains though, especially since some nations have tested whether conventional war is still feasible even with a nuclear armed neighbor. And at the very least, the cost of these arms has drained staggering resources from the nations who possess them.

The issues and policy questions created by these weapons change with time, but they remain as urgent as ever:

The implications of these questions, and the possible answers are severe - trillions of dollars, sources of power for generations to come, implications for global warming and pollution, civil liberty protections, are all affected to potentially very great degrees.

The only way these questions can be addressed in the emerging post- totalitarian world is through public debate by an informed electorate.

This site seeks to make a contribution to providing a sound basis for this debate. Historical information, current affairs, references to sources of information, and various kinds of technical data can be found here.

No technical specifications of weapon designs are found on this site. All information is from public sources, or based on reasonable inference or speculation from public information. If at times you are surprised by the level of information presented, then you have already learned a useful lesson - just how much information already exists in the public domain.

Please note that some of the material in the archive is speculation, although well grounded. To support or deny some of the statements requires an extensive weapons testing program. Please use the material as a guide only, and always check the factual base and consistency of the material, no matter where it comes from.


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