Monday, 4 July 2022 – 22:08

Do Nuclear Weapons Make Us Safer?

The world’s nine current members of the ‘Nuclear club’- those whom have nuclear capabilities- currently own a joint nuclear arsenal totalled to around 15,000 nuclear warheads. This is including the United Kingdom which is responsible for around 250 of these missiles. Each of these weapons has the capability to obliterate a whole city by just a press of a button; despite their extreme power of destruction thousands are on standby ready to be released in a matter of minutes. At the forefront of these members are the United States, claiming a reported 6,800 warheads, and Russia, responsible for a reported 7,000 warheads. This is questionable in itself, as some argue, these two countries have the joint power to cause the destruction of the planet in their nuclear capacity. In this extremely controversial topic it is important that both sides of the argument are viewed and reflected upon before creating a verdict.

Many politicians, academics and professionals argue that the sheer destructive power that these weapons acquire is a shroud that protects the world and makes it safer. This is due to the belief that the countries that own nuclear weapons have the understanding that they are extremely powerful and do have the capability to cause mass destruction, therefore this is meant to discourage other countries from ‘pushing the button’ due to the constant fear that another country would retaliate with greater force. This concept was proven during the height of the Cold War, during the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 specifically, when the US and Russian missiles were allegedly aimed at each other ready to fire. But neither did fire, according to the reports at the time, as both were afraid of the retaliation from the opposing side and both understood the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) that could have been the outcome. As a result displaying the need for nuclear weapons in making the world and each respective countries feel safer. This belief is justified in many circumstances and is proven in the everyday world, there has not been a nuclear bomb attack on another city since the nuclear missile strike at Nagasaki.

In contrast the belief of others is the possession of the nuclear weapons do not create a sense of safety. This is because some believe that these extremely powerful weapons are in the hands of leaders of different countries. For some, it is alarming to think that nuclear weapons are in the control of radical characters such as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, furthermore the survival of some cities is dictated by their decisions ultimately. Additionally, despite the majority of the leaders and politicians who make the decision are democratically elected, they are not elected by the rest of the world of whom they may affect. Therefore this displays an argument against the safety shield that the nuclear weapons claim to provide, as leaders strike fear to the people of the world due to their arguably unstable personality. Although this would be an extremely narrow and limited reason for being against nuclear weapons as it would not be completely down to these key leaders alone, in today’s world the decision would be made to go through extreme and thorough checks, along with consultations with a number of key people and even foreign influences. The belief that leaders like Kim Jong-un are standing over a big red button ready to fire a missile on any country is a belief that is unrealistic, although the North Korean is an unpredictable character, and this depiction is far-fetched.

In this short analysis, the two main arguments for and against the belief that nuclear weapons make us safer have been displayed. In my opinion, it is not a simple yes we need nuclear weapons, or no we do not need them. They provide a certain aspect of protection however since 1945, although one has not caused destruction completely, nuclear war has the Nagasaki attack, there has been numerous testing that have almost gone wrong and caused death and destruction. In my view, there can never be a complete voluntary extinction of nuclear weapons because if some countries suggest they will abolish their nuclear power, the question that could be asked is will they completely remove all of their power, probably not. With reference to the question, the debate will continue and will ultimately be unresolved. What is clear is that nuclear weapons are important and do affect everyone everyone’s safety. In contrast what is not clear is the different methods of managing the weapons each country has and the threat that they pose.

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