Before analyzing weapons of mass destruction, their exact definition should be determined. Various sources, such as encyclopedias, articles, and academic works, come to the same conclusion that any weapon of mass destruction possesses life-threatening characteristics. It can bring about serious and frequently irreversible changes in the human life and environment in general. At the same time, it has a substantial destructive and harmful impact on the lives of many human beings (and other life forms) in all aspects. Weapons of mass destruction can cause massive demolition to constructions and the pollution of nature. Such kind of weapons hugely affects human lives, health status, and society security.
Speaking about weapons of mass destruction, as a rule, scientists distinguish nuclear, chemical, and biological materials meant for killing large numbers of people. However, nowadays there are other dangerous technological means used for the same purpose, which expand this list. Civilians and noncombatants mainly suffer from their destructive power. The intention of using nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is to raise a panic and terror in people’s minds. It can result in disastrous consequences and long-lasting negative effects.
William Gay (2003) in his book Weapons of Mass Destruction rightly states that nuclear weapons are the most grave among weapons of mass destruction. It is a widely-known fact that the first experience of using nuclear bombs was during the World War II (American-Japan chapter), and the weapon was primarily targeted at civilians. “The 14 kiloton uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 7, 1945 and the 20 kiloton plutonium bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 each killed 50,000 to 100,000 people and ushered in the nuclear arms race”. The political top management of any country possessing nuclear weapons must realize that it can obliterate from 100 to 200 cities, and kill from 50 to 100 million civilians in case of nuclear bombs activation.
Nuclear weapons are based on the usage of nuclear energy that comes out during a complicated chemical reaction and results into a powerful detonation. If such an explosion is carried out on the Earth or not far from its surface, then part of the explosive energy, transferred to the latter, causes ground vibrations. They are similar to an earthquake. Seismic waves are spread over rather long distances. An extremely high temperature of the explosion provokes an intensively bright flash of light. As a result, radiation occurs. It lasts for a moment, but possesses a rather high penetrating capacity. The quantity of the usual explosive substance, for example, triton, characterizes the power of the nuclear explosion. It is usually called a TNT equivalent of the nuclear energy. Any nuclear explosion is specified by four attacking factors: a blasting wave, high-intensity light, penetrating radiation, and radioactive contamination of the ground. Intensive light can inflame fuel materials, and provoke numerous fires and skin burns in humans. People can have eye damages and temporary blindness, if they are in the open air and not far away from the epicenter of the explosion.
Radiation can affect people in different ways. It can cause immediate death, heavy diseases, and hardly-detectable internal injuries. Initial nuclear radiation is an invisible and insensible stream of gamma rays and neutrons that radiate out of the nuclear explosion zone. Significant doses of radioactive substances disturb the normal functioning of cells and organs and result into X-ray sickness.
The radioactive contamination of the ground depends on the type and power of the nuclear explosion, and the wind direction and its velocity at various heights. Air, territory, constructions, buildings, water, crops, and all surface things can be contaminated with radioactive agents. The consumption of contaminated food and water, or being inside of contaminated buildings provokes radiation disease.
As regards chemical weapons of mass destruction, they are defined “as weapons using the toxic properties of chemical substances rather than their explosive properties to produce physical or physiological effects on an enemy” (Weapons of Mass Destruction, n.d.). Chemical facilities are poisonous materials, such as phosgene, chlorine, mustard gas, and nerve gas. Chemical weapons can be used in the form of various specially-engineered gases, liquids, smokes, and vapors. They are meant for the destruction of people, animals, the contamination of areas and constructions, industrial equipment, food items, and for other purposes. For the first time, chemical weapons were widely and frequently used during the World War I. William Gay (2003) emphasized that the “World War I witnessed the first large-scale use of chemical weapons, over 100,000 deaths and 1,300,000 casualties resulted from the use of chlorine gas and other chemical agents”. Many countries accumulated significant stocks of poisonous materials, but during the World War II, they were rarely used. The main reason for the refusal of this weapon was its inefficiency and weather dependence. The inhalation of the contaminated air attacks people and animals heavily.
There are two types of bacteriological weapons, namely disease-producing and poisonous. The former means are inclined to rapid multiplication, and therefore, they are capable to affect a contaminated organism. A bacterium, entering the body via inhaling organs (nose or mouth) or skin injuries/wounds, quickly, deactivates human beings. Insects, gnawing animals, or other bigger creatures serve as virus transmitters. They bring an infection into circulation and start an epidemic process. Bacteriological weapons include diseases caused by such factors as influenza virus, smallpox, some kinds of fever, measles, cholera, pneumonia virus, and brain fever. Anthrax, bubonic plaque, gas gangrene, dysentery, diphtheria, scarlet fever, tuberculosis, leprosy and tularemia are diseases caused by bacteria.
A brief description of the leading weapons of mass destruction (WMD) provides a general idea about the present threats to the entire world and even to the Earth existence. Possessing such destructive qualities, weapons of mass destruction incur horrible, sometimes, unimaginable consequences, which are dangerous for human beings and the environment. The use of nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological weapons results into the tremendous number of casualties. It can impact the existing generation and the next ones. The use of WMD leads to killing innocent people, having mercy on nobody. People must always remember that nothing goes without leaving a trace. They interfere with nature forcibly, trying, and exploiting weapons of mass destruction.
Gay (2003) refers to weapons of mass destruction as instruments of terror. Many countries are eager to the ones in their arsenal. In this way, they want to secure themselves and assure a potential enemy of their capability to counterattack. Such weapons also serve as a restraining factor. A group of nuclear countries includes the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan. “Several more countries and terrorist groups have tried to develop or obtain nuclear weapons, including Iraq, Libya, North Korea, and Al-Qaeda”. At the same time, nuclear states consider the availability of weapons of mass destruction as an evidence of power and the extension of influence. In spite of tight financial circumstances, these countries keep on splashing substantial amounts of financial funds for producing such weapons. However, the money could have been used for more noble purposes, particularly establishing health institutes, and developing educational, cultural programs, and art. Countries possessing nuclear, biological, chemical and other weapons of mass destruction should remove the problem of terror, tension, and misunderstanding among them, and should not compete with each other. On the contrary, they must set up relations on the ground of trust and friendship. Moreover, nations must change their attitude to each other. They should learn to respect differences in cultural and religious traditions, and economic and political systems, and be tolerant and reasonable.
Considering that the arms race depends on political decisions, politicians must keep on having an open face-to-face dialogue. It is in their hands to change people mentality concerning this issue. Tight relations, escalating aggression among countries, and misunderstandings will deliver them nowhere. Politicians must apply common sense and demonstrate their wisdom and political will in this matter.
To sum up, it is necessary to support the concept announced during the Chicago Summit of NATO on May 12, 2012 stating, “the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threatens incalculable consequences for global stability and prosperity”. For this reason, politicians must put maximum efforts to stop any further arms race, and continue the process of nuclear and chemical disarming and further demilitarization.