Disarmament: A Basic Guide

First Edition

image of Disarmament: A Basic Guide

International peace and security - and therefore disarmament - stand at the core of the UN mandate. This publication is designed to inform, educate and generate public understanding of the importance of multilateral action, and to rally support for it, in the field of arms limitation and disarmament. Intended primarily for the general reader, this basic guide may also be useful for the disarmament educator or trainer. It is published by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in collaboration with the NGO (non-governmental organizations) Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security pursuant to the purposes of the United Nations Disarmament Information Programme.



Nuclear weapons

The most dangerous weapons in the world are nuclear, which use the enormous amounts of energy released when the nucleus of a heavy atom such as uranium or plutonium is split in a chain reaction (fission), or when isotopes of a light element such as hydrogen combine in a thermonuclear bomb (fusion). The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, each with the explosive power of 20,000 tons of dynamite (20 kilotons), have long been dwarfed. By the 1970s, the Soviet Union and the United States, which have 98 per cent of the world’s nuclear weapons, had in their arsenals thousands of 25 megaton warheads. (A megaton is equivalent to a million tons of TNT.) Far more powerful thermonuclear bombs have been tested.


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