Nuclear Weapons. Essay

889 words - 4 pages

In its attempts to harness the power of the atom, mankindhas itself in the possession of weapons with unbelievable,destructive power. Nations now have the ability to destroyentire cities from hundreds of miles away, in only minutes.These weapons are nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons cost thecitizens of the United States billions of dollars in taxes eachyear, the testing and maintenance of these weapons pose serioushealth risks, and the actual need for these weapons is not andhas not been around for years. For the above reasons, I feelthe United States should reduce its nuclear arsenal.Nuclear weapons derive their power from the energyreleased when a heavy nucleus is divided, called fission or whenlight nuclei are forced together, called fusion. In fission, anucleus from a heavy element is bombarded with neutrons. Thenucleus breaks into two pieces, releasing energy and two or moreneutrons. Each of these neutrons has enough energy to splitanother heavy nucleus, allowing the process to repeat itself.This is the chain reaction that makes nuclear weapons possible.In a fusion nuclear device such as a hydrogen bomb, lightweightnuclei are forced to fuse at very high temperatures into heaviernuclei, releasing energy and a neutron. In order to squeeze thetwo nuclei together, an atomic fission bomb is usually used. Afusion reaction releases about four times more energy per unitmass than a fission reaction. The United States supervised thedevelopment of the atomic bomb under the code name ManhattanProject, during World War II. The first nuclear chain reactionoccurred in December 1942, at the University of Chicago. Soonafter the first bomb test, atomic bombs were dropped on theJapanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The firsthydrogen bomb was developed by a team of United Statesscientists and was first tested on November 1, 1952. AfterWorld War II, a new age of military strategy occurred. TheUnited States built up massive nuclear weapons arsenals anddeveloped highly sophisticated systems of delivery and defense.Today's intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carry one ormore multiple, independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIBVs),each with its own nuclear war head.Billions of dollars are wasted in taxes, each year, to payfor nuclear weapons. The United States has spent about fourtrillion dollars for its nuclear arsenal since governmentsupported work began on the atomic bomb in 1940 (Schwartz 1).This number is three times larger than the entire United Statesbudget for World War II (Schwartz 1). This number covers most,but not all, of the costs required to develop, produce, display,operate, support and control nuclear forces over the past fiftyyears. Anywhere from five-hundred billion to one trilliondollars could be added to this, to cover the remaining costs(Schwartz 1). Nuclear weapons are estimated to have usedbetween one quarter and one third of all military spending sinceWorld War II (Schwartz 2). Today, Congress and theAdministration are...

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