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Disarmament: A Basic Guide

Fourth Edition

image of Disarmament: A Basic Guide

Conceived as a comprehensive introduction to a field central to the work of the United Nations, Disarmament: A Basic Guide aims to provide a useful overview of the nuanced challenges of building a more peaceful world in the twenty-first century. It was written with the general reader in mind and it strives to be accessible without downplaying the complexity of the issues it explores. This fourth edition includes updated figures, tables and treaty statuses; new analysis of the key developments since 2012; discussion of two recently agreed legal instruments, the Arms Trade Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; and a new chapter on emerging threats from cyber weaponry, unmanned combat aerial vehicles and lethal autonomous weapons systems.

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Nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons on earth. No other weapon poses an existential threat to humanity. A single bomb has the potential to destroy an entire city, kill millions and contaminate air, land and water for many kilometres around the original blast site for thousands of years. In the event of a major nuclear war, all of civilization would be threatened by the direct effects of the nuclear blasts, the resulting radiation and the nuclear winter that could potentially result when enormous clouds of smoke, fine dust and soot are thrown into the atmosphere. A number of recent studies have shown that even a limited regional nuclear war would cause significant climate disruption, resulting in nuclear famine that could affect over 2 billion people. Physicians and first responders would be unable to work in radioactively contaminated areas, making it impossible to reach and treat survivors.

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