United Nations Disarmament Yearbook 1976

image of United Nations Disarmament Yearbook 1976
The volume 1 compiles the disarmament resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly, the voting patterns in the General Assembly and the First Committee report and dates of their adoption.



Prohibition of radiological weapons

There are, in pr in c ipl e , two methods of conducting radiological warfare. One involves the use of so-called “dirty” nuclear weapons, that is, maximizing the radioactive effects of a nuclear weapon explosion so as to augment the immediate damage caused by blast, heat and initial radiation by increasing the radioactive fall-out which would present a radiation hazard for long periods of time—weeks, months and even years. The other mode of radiological warfare is the use of radioactive agents independently of nuclear explosions. This is the mode of use referred to as radiological weapons. These weapons can be employed in two basically different ways. The first method is to disperse, on the ground of the target area, radioactive material which then exposes human beings stationed in, or passing through, the area to external irradiation. For this to be effective, however, large amounts of radioactive material are needed, and it presents a very considerable difficulty to transport such amounts to the target. The activity also decays with time and the effect of the weapon thus may have to be reinforced at intervals. A second possibility is to utilize a radioactive product, such as strontium 90, which presents a hazard when inhaled or ingested. The time needed for radiation effects to establish themselves in humans is, however, long, in the range of several years, which severely limits the usefulness of the weapon in most military contingencies.


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