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Nuclear Weapons 101
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  1. Nuclear Weapons 101

  2. “The nuclear bomb is the most anti-democratic, anti-human, outright evil thing that man has ever made… This world of ours is four thousand, six hundred million years old. It could end in an afternoon.” Arundhati Roy Walter Herdeg

  3. The Current State of Nuclear Weapons INESAP & NAPF, 2002

  4. Nuclear weapons today • Between 21,300 and 30,000 nuclear warheads with the equivalent explosive force of: • 200,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs (11 billion tons of TNT - 2 tons for every human on the planet). • 5,000 ready to be launched in less than 30 minutes.

  5. Tactical vs. strategic nuclear weapons • Tactical: • US and Russian definition - less than 500 km range. • Strategic: • Intended to be detonated in other countries, i.e. intercontinental delivery.

  6. Nuclear weapons -Declared states Strategic Tactical USA Russia France China Britain 7,000 6,000 450 400 185 3,300 14,000 60 150 80

  7. Nuclear weapons - “Undeclared” states Israel - 200 India - 60-80 Pakistan - 10-25

  8. Mass destruction abilities • 40+ states are nuclear capable. • Chemical and biological weapons are the “poor man’s” Weapons of Mass Destruction.

  9. Missile Defense • A proposed US system to shoot down long-range ballistic missiles in flight. • $90 billion spent since 1983. • $60-100 billion more estimated by the Clinton Administration. • Same amount could eradicate six common diseases that kill 40,000 third world children every day.

  10. Missile Defense • The US intends to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty on June 13, 2002. • The ABM prohibits deployment of a missile defense system giving one side a strategic advantage. • Breaking the ABM undermines the Non Proliferation Treaty

  11. Canada and Missile Defense • “Canadian participation in the Missile Defense shield is more about maintaining good relations with the US than it is about protecting Canada.” • Will Canada participate in MD? • What will Canada have to pay?

  12. US Nuclear Posture Review • 2002 report on the goals and structure of US nuclear forces. • Asserted a permanent role for nuclear weapons in military policy into the future. • Goes against treaty commitments for nuclear weapons elimination. • Firmly committed to Missile Defense.

  13. Nuclear Terrorism Robert Del Tredici Vulnerability of nuclear facilities?

  14. Nuclear terrorism Nuclear weapons materials are vulnerable to terrorists in many different countries because production and storage facilities are not adequately safeguarded.

  15. Nuclear terrorism • A crude but highly lethal nuclear device can be fabricated by a determined group if it can acquire quantities of highly enriched uranium or plutonium. • Acquisition of fissile material by terrorists is a very real possibility.

  16. Nuclear material availability • Fissile materials are not controlled or accounted for effectively. • Only 1/3 of an estimated 600 tonnes of weapons-usable material in the former Soviet Union has been locked up. • At least 40 kg of weapons-usable uranium and plutonium has been stolen.

  17. Terrorism and nuclear energy • The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that current nuclear power plants are structurally vulnerable against the Sept. 11 attack scenario. • “Consequences of a direct hit from an airliner would be catastrophic.” • There is also virtually no protection from the sabotage acts of an insider.

  18. The Basics Oxford University Press

  19. Nuclear weapon cores • Fission weapons require “fissile isotopes”. • Most important - plutonium-239 (Pu-239) and uranium-235 (U-235). • Some weapons are made from both isotopes. • Basic nuclear weapons rely on nuclear fission chain reaction to produce large amount of energy in a very short time.

  20. Nuclear explosions • Explosive power measured by the mass equivalent of TNT: • A 1 kiloton bomb has an explosive yield equivalent to 1000 tons of TNT. • A 1 megaton bomb has an explosive yield equivalent to 1,000,000 tons of TNT. • The Hiroshima bomb was 15 kilotons.

  21. Plutonium • Weapons grade - produced in military plutonium-production reactors specifically for nuclear weapons use. • Reactor grade - produced in commercial nuclear-power reactors • For electricity production, but can be used to make weapons.

  22. Plutonium - environmental impact • Production of a single kg of plutonium produces: • 1,300 L of high-level radioactive waste. • 200,000 kg of low to intermediate-level waste. • 10 million L of contaminated cooling water. • The half-life of plutonium is 24,000 years. Sygma

  23. Uranium • Naturally occurring uranium contains 0.7% U-235. • Weapons use highly-enriched uranium (HEU) - proportion of U-235 increased. • Weapons grade - usually enriched to greater than 90%, but lower percentages still useable.

  24. Estimated plutonium stocks

  25. Estimated HEU stocks

  26. Core requirements • A 20 kt nuclear bomb requires: • 4-5 kg of weapons grade plutonium OR • 10-15 kg of weapons grade uranium. • A 1kt nuclear weapon could be made with: • 1 kg of weapons-grade plutonium OR • 2.5 kg of weapons-grade uranium.

  27. Delivery of nuclear weapons • Launched from submarines or land. • Delivered on artillery or ballistic or cruise missiles. • Dropped from aircraft. • Low technology such as trucks, small boats and cargo planes could also be used. • A 1 or 2 kt device could be carried in a backpack.

  28. The Effects of Nuclear Weapons Akira Yokoyama & Yusako Kamekura

  29. Nuclear testing • 2,045 nuclear test explosions by 8 countries. • Estimated 49,000 deaths from radioactive fallout from testing in Nevada. • Testing in the South Pacific has left islands uninhabitable and ruined for agriculture. • Islanders forced to leave their homes. Library of Congress

  30. August 6, 1945 • US detonated a 15 kiloton bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. • Deaths - 118,661. • Injuries - 78,000. Sygma Pantheon Books, 1981

  31. August 9, 1945 • US detonated a 21 kiloton bomb over Nagasaki, Japan. • Deaths - 73,884. • Injuries - 74,909. • 6.7 million square metres leveled. Somerville House Books, Ltd.

  32. Hiroshima and Nagasaki UPI/Bettmann • Ground temperatures reached about 7,000 degrees. • “Black rain” containing radioactive fallout poured down for hours after the explosions. Peacewire

  33. Effects of a 12 kiloton bomb New York City

  34. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Flash • Intense flash of light, a thousand times brighter than lightning. • Pulse of heat radiation - sets fire to combustible material 14 km away. • Pulse of X-rays, lethal within 3 km.

  35. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Fireball • Forms after the ‘flash’ and rises in the air. • Can permanently blind people up to 80 km away. • All exposed body parts burned deeply within 10 km. • Superficial burns within fifteen km.

  36. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Blast • Powerful blast wave - starts immediately, but travels slower than the flash and fireball. • Destroys everything within 2 km. • 100% fatalities within 3 km. • 50% of people killed within 8 km. • Major damage to buildings within 14 km, windows broken out to 20-30 km.

  37. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Blast • Hurricane force winds, first outwards, then inwards. • Tornado force winds (six hundred km/hr), within four km - can drive glass splinters into people. • People picked up and hurled into any object strong enough to be still standing.

  38. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Firestorm • Fires started by the first flash coalesce. • Cause sufficient updraft to form their own wind, which blows inwards from all sides - increasing the intensity of the fire. • Fire uses all available oxygen. • “People caught in the open would melt, those in shelters would probably be baked.”

  39. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Acute radiation exposure • Central nervous system dysfunction. • Gastrointestinal damage. • Uncontrolled internal bleeding. • Bleeding from gums or within the skin. • Massive infections. • Death.

  40. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Delayed radiation • Everything in vicinity of explosion radioactive. • Hiroshima - radioactive rainstorms. • 1/3 of original fissile material not destroyed. • Widespread contamination. • Increased risk of developing cancer for survivors.

  41. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Firestorm • Fires started by the first flash coalesce. • Cause sufficient updraft to form their own wind, which blows inwards from all sides - increasing the intensity of the fire. • Fire uses all available oxygen. • “People caught in the open would melt, those in shelters would probably be baked.”

  42. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • In case of a nuclear bomb - don’t bother to call your doctor. • No significant medical response possible. • Hospitals destroyed, most health care providers killed.

  43. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Medical response barriers • No electricity, water or telephone service. • No drugs, sterile IV solutions, bandages. • Impassable roads, inaccessible areas. • Overloading of emergency/ hospital services in surrounding areas. • Rescuers risk radiation exposure.

  44. One-megaton bomb detonated in the air • Medical problems: one city of 1-2 million • Fifty times more severe burns than burn beds in North America. • A year’s supply of blood for transfusions needed immediately. • Bottlenecks and delays due to the need for radioactivity assays. • Most of injured die, even from easily treated injuries.

  45. One-megaton bomb detonated at ground-level • Enormous crater - 400 metres wide and 70 metres deep. • Major fallout of radioactive particulates, potentially lethal hundreds of kilometres downwind. • Area of blast damage and immediate deaths about one half of air detonation scenario. • More deaths days to weeks after bomb due to radiation sickness from fallout.

  46. 1 megaton bomb over Ottawa Public Broadcasting Service

  47. Effect of nuclear war • Many nuclear bombs exploded. • End of civilization in countries concerned. • Radioactive contamination of whole continents. • Permanent large scale damage to environment. • Nuclear winter.

  48. Nuclear winter • Airborne contaminants absorb and reflect the sun’s rays. • Results in an extended period of semi-darkness and freezing temperatures. • Potentially generated from less than 100 detonations.

  49. International Law and Treaties Disarmament and Security Centre The World Court