WHEN WERE NUCLEAR WEAPONS FIRST USED AND WHAT ARE THEY?
One of the deadliest and most consequential days humanity has ever seen was when nuclear weapons were created. The sheer terror and devastation that followed could only be described as profoundly inhumane, as humans watched their fellow humans burn and damn generations to a lifetime of suffering from illnesses and defects associated with exposure to nuclear weapons. Not only do nuclear weapons harm people, but they have destructive consequences for the environment as well. Nuclear weapons are considered Weapons of Mass Destruction, which are “nuclear, biological, chemical, or other devices that are intended to harm a large number of people.” According to the BBC, nuclear weapons function by receiving “their energy from either splitting atoms or joining the tiny particles inside the atoms together.”
The United States first used nuclear weapons against Japan, where the United States dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. On August 6th, 1945, an American B-29 warplane dropped said bombs, killing 70,000 people in Hiroshima and almost 40,000 in Nagasaki instantaneously, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. By the year 1950, nearly 350,000 people had died due to the effects of the bomb.
The consequences of a nuclear bomb dropping are not short-lived. Drawing upon what Francesco Rocca, the President of the International Federation of the Red Cross, has noted that “widespread radiation sickness, a decline in food production, and the tremendous scale of destruction and contamination would make any meaningful humanitarian response insufficient. No nation is prepared to deal with a nuclear confrontation.”
Many nations across the earth have nuclear warheads, some being upfront regarding their possession and others being secretive. Nine countries, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation, the French Republic, the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Israel, and the Republic of India are nuclear states.
Organizations like the United Nations and other states and NGOs have been committed to eliminating nuclear weapons. During the General Assembly in 1946, the first resolution adopted pertained to finding ways to abolish atomic weapons and any weapons that could cause mass destruction.
INTERNATIONAL TREATIES AND LAWS REGARDING THE USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones have been created, according to the United Nations, which were “established to strengthen global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament norms and consolidate international efforts towards peace and security.” These Zones are made up of states which have freely chosen to have no nuclear weapons by their virtue. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was created to restrict nuclear weapons and technology by working in the spirit of global diplomacy and the pursuit of peace. The objective of the Treaty is international disarmament. It was entered into force in 1970, and 191 states have joined the Treaty.
TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons asserts that the use, threat of use, development, production, testing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons” must be prohibited. Further, it “obliges all States Parties not to assist, encourage or induce anyone in any way to engage in any activity prohibited by the Treaty.” It provides hope for a world free of nuclear weapons, which is 75 years in the making. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons sets the precedent that legally and morally, nuclear weapons are dehumanizing. The Treaty has entered into force as of January 22nd, 2021, as an instrument of international humanitarian law.
WHY THE WORLD SHOULD BE NUCLEAR FREE
The existence of nuclear weapons is contradictory to the pursuit of establishing world peace. A profound power imbalance arises when states have the option to destroy large groups of people and land; or even having enough nuclear weapons to eradicate all of humanity and planet earth. The world saw how easy it is for humanity to cease to exist during the Cuban Missile Crisis during the height of the Cold War when the international community narrowly escaped destruction. Because of the quest for world dominance by two superpowers, the world almost ended. When one reflects upon the aftermath of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is evident that nuclear weapons’ human cost and suffering outweigh the possible benefits of nuclear weapons.