Ten Facts about Nuclear Weapons — and a New DVD

November 16th, 2007 - by admin

Nuclear Age Peace Foundation – 2007-11-16 23:03:41



• 1. There are still some 26,000 nuclear warheads in the world, enough to destroy civilization many times over and destroy most life on earth. Nuclear weapons make humans an endangered species.

2. More than 95% of all nuclear weapons are in the arsenals of the US and Russia.

• 3. The average nuclear weapon in the US arsenal is approximately eight times more powerful than the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, immediately killing some 90,000 people.

• 4. There are currently nine countries with nuclear weapons (US, Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea).

• 5. The 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, ratified by nearly every country in the world, requires the nuclear weapons states to engage in good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament.

• 6. The United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 in order to pursue missile defenses and space weaponization. US withdrawal from the treaty has caused both Russia and China to improve their offensive nuclear capabilities.

• 7. There are up to 2,000,000 kilograms of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) in global stockpiles, and it takes just 15-24 kilograms for a nuclear weapon. There are 28 countries with at least one bomb’s worth of HEU and 12 countries with at least 20 bombs’ worth.

• 8. Plutonium created in nuclear power reactors is another source of bomb material. It takes as little as three to five kilograms of plutonium to create a nuclear weapon. There are now some 500,000 kilograms of separated plutonium in global stockpiles. Plutonium stocks continue to increase due to civilian ‘spent’ fuel reprocessing.

• 9. The 2001 US Nuclear Posture Review provides for developing contingency plans for nuclear weapons use against seven countries: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, Russia and China.

• 10. The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) between the US and Russia requires the two countries to reduce their deployed strategic warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by December 31, 2012. On the following day the treaty terminates, and each side can redeploy as many nuclear warheads as it chooses. Many of the nuclear warheads taken off deployed status are not being dismantled, but rather placed in storage, where they might be stolen by criminal or terrorist groups.

• 1. Nuclear weapons were needed to defeat Japan in World War II. This is not the opinion of many leading US military figures in the war. General Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II and later US president, wrote, “I thought that our country should avoid shocking world opinion by the use of a weapon whose employment was, I thought, no longer mandatory as a measure to save American lives. It was my belief that Japan was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face’….”

• 2. Nuclear weapons prevented a war between the United States and the Soviet Union. There were many deadly conflicts and “proxy” wars carried out by the superpowers in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The Vietnam War, which took several million lives, is a prominent example. These wars made the supposed nuclear peace very bloody and deadly.

• 3. Nuclear threats have gone away since the end of the Cold War. In the aftermath of the Cold War, a variety of new nuclear threats have emerged. Among these are the following dangers:

* Increased chances of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists willing to use them;
* Policies of the US government to make nuclear weapons smaller and more usable;
* Use of nuclear weapons by accident, particularly because of decaying Russian infrastructure; and
* Spread of nuclear weapons to other states that may perceive them to be an “equalizer” against a more powerful state.

• 4. The United States needs nuclear weapons for its national security. US national security would be far improved if the US took a leadership role in seeking to eliminate nuclear weapons throughout the world. Nuclear weapons are the only weapons that could actually destroy the United States, and their existence and proliferation threaten US security.

• 5. Nuclear weapons make a country safer. By threatening massive retaliation, the argument goes, nuclear weapons prevent an attacker from starting a war. There are many ways, though, in which deterrence could fail, including misunderstandings, faulty communications, irrational leaders, miscalculations and accidents.

• 6. No leader would be crazy enough to actually use nuclear weapons. US leaders, considered by some to be highly rational, have used nuclear weapons in war, against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Threats of nuclear attack by India and Pakistan are an example of nuclear brinksmanship that could turn into a nuclear war. Globally and historically, leaders have done their best to prove that they would use nuclear weapons.

• 7. Nuclear weapons are a cost-effective method of national defense. The cost of US nuclear weapons research, development, testing, deployment and maintenance has exceeded $7.5 trillion.

• 8. Nuclear weapons are well protected and there is little chance that terrorists could get their hands on one. In the aftermath of the Cold War, the ability of the Russians to protect their nuclear forces has declined precipitously. In addition, a coup in a country with nuclear weapons, such as Pakistan, could lead to a government coming to power that was willing to provide nuclear weapons to terrorists.

• 9. The United States is working to fulfill its nuclear disarmament obligations. The United States has failed for nearly four decades to fulfill its obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, requiring good faith negotiations to achieve nuclear disarmament. The United States has failed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and has withdrawn from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

• 10. Nuclear weapons are needed to combat threats from terrorists and “rogue states.” The threat of nuclear force cannot act as a deterrent against terrorists because they do not have a territory to retaliate against. If the leaders of a rogue state do not use a rational calculus regarding their losses from retaliation, deterrence can fail.


The new DVD, “Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future,” has been snapped up for distribution in more than 100 countries by the World Federation of United Nations Associations.

The new 20-minute DVD, written and narrated by Nuclear Age Peace Foundation President David Krieger, shows how the US and the world will benefit by moving beyond weapons of mass destruction.

“Our goal with the DVD is straight-forward: we want to change thinking about nuclear weapons, so we can help make the world safer,” said Steven Crandell, Director of Public Affairs for the Foundation. “The Cold War ended in 1991, but our country’s thinking about nuclear weapons has not progressed.

“The United States currently maintains thousands of nuclear weapons as a deterrent even though there is no longer any nation to deter. In fact, current US plans to build new nuclear weapons only feed proliferation urges among the “have-not” countries and terrorist groups. A change in strategy is definitely needed. That’s why we created Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future.”

“We have become complacent – to our own detriment,” said Foundation President David Krieger. “The current instability in Pakistan could result in their nuclear weapons falling into the hands of fanatics or terrorists. As a human community on a planet we share, we cannot afford to run such risks.”

The new DVD can be seen on the web site of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation – www.wagingpeace.org. The Foundation will send the DVD to anyone who wants to gather a group of friends, neighbors or family to watch the DVD and raise people’s awareness.

The Foundation has also developed support materials such as “10 Facts about Nuclear Weapons.” In addition, the Foundation will send out the DVD free to any member of the media who wishes to form his or her own opinion. Just e-mail Director of Programs, Rick Wayman, who is coordinating the project, with your request. rwayman@napf.org

“This is an even more urgent and inconvenient truth than that of climate change,” says Foundation President David Krieger. “We know full well that nuclear weapons are 100 percent human-created. While continued global warming could irrevocably change our planet, causing great dislocation and suffering, our self-created nuclear dangers are even more urgent. They could destroy civilization and end intelligent life on the planet in the virtual blink – or blinding flash – of an eye.”

Contact: Steven Crandell, 805 965-3443, scrandell@napf.org

Initial Praise for “Nuclear Weapons and the Human Future”
• “It is a very valuable overview of the nuclear issue and perfect for the popular masses.”
— Marcus Wilson, Disarmament Coordinator for the worldwide UN support organization.

• “The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has done a wonderful job on an issue that has too long been on the back burner of our national life.”
— Lea Wood, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

• “I have never had a better educational tool for nuclear abolition, and I’ve been at it a long time.”
— Dr. Bill Wickersham, University of Missouri

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation initiates and supports worldwide efforts to abolish nuclear weapons, to strengthen international law and institutions, and to inspire and empower a new generation of peace leaders. Founded in 1982, the Foundation is comprised of individuals and organizations worldwide who realize the imperative for peace in the Nuclear Age. The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation is a non-profit, non-partisan international education and advocacy organization. It has consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is recognized by the UN as a Peace Messenger Organization.’

• For more information about the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, see www.wagingpeace.org/menu/about
• For More Information please call Director of Public Affairs, Steven Crandell at 805-965-3443 or email scrandell@napf.org