Nuclear Weapons

What is a Nuclear Weapon?

A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as the result of nuclear chain reactions involving the fission or fusion or both, of atomic nuclei. Basically it is any device that harnesses the immense power of the atom to create a bomb or explosive device. Even more simplified, they are essentially nothing more than huge bombs – with a unique exception – they have the potential to destroy entire cities. A typical nuclear tipped warhead  might have a power of one megaton of TNT. This means it would explode with the power of 1,000,000 tons of TNT. To grasp the size and quantity of this much TNT, imagine a field 300×300 meters long, and stack it with TNT 300 meters tall. The same reactions that occur with that much TNT is all packed into a nuclear device, and can be made ready to for deployment in something the size of a small boat.

nuclear weapon bomb explosion atom

Effects of a nuclear blast

Nuclear explosions produce both immediate and delayed destructive effects. Immediate effects (blast and shockwave, radiation) are produced and cause significant destruction within seconds or minutes of a nuclear detonation. The delayed and lingering effects (radioactive fallout and other possible environmental contamination) inflict damage over an extended period ranging from hours to centuries.

nuke nuclear weapons bomb nagasaki hiroshima

(The mushroom cloud of the atomic bombing of strategic port city, Nagasaki, in 1945 lifted nuclear fallout some 60,000 feet (18 km) above the epicenter.)

The missile or method of deployment would be detonated slightly above the ground, to extend the shockwave over the desired target, and maximize the bombs effect. The first chain of events would be the heat and extreme light, scorching everything for a few mile radius (depending on the size) in nearly 20,000°F flames. The air itself would literally be sucked up, and seem to catch fire. Seconds after the initial impact, the shockwave would follow. This would level buildings, homes, and throw cars around like paper in the wind. Imagine having a hurricane made of  fire, trees discintigrate in the hot wind, and structures crumble like dust. The shockwave would be so powerful that the air would not be able to absorb it all. Some energy would create an EMP (electromagnetic)  pulse that would destroy electrical circuits miles from ground zero, perhaps even knocking out orbiting satellites.

After the explosion itself, anyone on the edge of the explosion (who were lucky enough to survive) would have melted flesh and severe burns, the skin would literally fall off the bone. Anyone who had seen the blast from such a distance would have permanent loss of vision.

In the days, weeks and months to follow, anyone exposed to the are around ground zero would begin to suffer the effects of radiation and nuclear fallout. It would – and has been an awful sight to see.

nagasaki nuclear weapons fallout

nagasaki hiroshima nuclear aftermath

(Damage from Hiroshima and Nagasaki after nuclear devices were used to end WWII – the cities we basically wiped off the map)

Who is in posession of Nuclear Weapons?

The amount of weapons posessed by these countries is more than enough to destroy the world (all the major cities, and cause a nuclear winter) many times over.

The following is a list of nations that have admitted the possession of nuclear weapons, and the approximate number of warheads under their control. This list is informally known in global politics as the “Nuclear Club”.

  • United States – 10,640
  • Russia – 8,600
  • People’s Republic of China – 400
  • France – 350
  • United Kingdom – 200
  • India – 60-90
  • Pakistan – 24-48

From a high of 65,000 weapons in 1985, there were about 40,000 nuclear weapons in the world in 2002-2003.

Countries believed to have or sometimes suspected of having at least one unconfirmed nuclear weapon currently, or at some point in history, or research programs with a realistic chance of producing a nuclear weapon in the near future:

  • Israel – It is questionable whether Israel should be classed as a “suspected state” at this point. Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to officially admit or deny having a nuclear arsenal, or to having developed nuclear weapons, or even to having a nuclear weapons program. Although former Prime Minister Israel – It is questionable whether Israel should be classed as a “suspected state” at this point. Israel is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation TreatyShimon Peres unofficially acknowledged this last fact in the summer of 1998, extensive information about this program in Dimona was disclosed by physician Mordechai Vanunu in 1986, and imagery analysts can identify weapon bunkers, mobile missile launchers, and launch sites in satellite photographs. It is clear though that Israel can deploy or employ nuclear weapons at will, and it is suspected to possess nuclear weapons by the International Atomic Energy Agency. According to the National Resources Defense Council and the Federation of American Scientists, they may possess 100-200 weapons. However until it admits to having an actual stockpile of weapons, it will be retained on the “suspect” list for the present time. (
  • Iran – Iran signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and says its interest in nuclear technology, including enrichment, was for civilian purposes only, but the CIA claims this to be a cover for a nuclear weapons program.  ( ( The Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi stated on the intentions of his country’s nuclear ambitions: “Iran has a high technical capability and has to be recognized by the international community as a member of the nuclear club. This is an irreversible path.”  (,2933,122526,00.html)
  • North Korea – On January 10, 2003 North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Allegedly they have since announced their possession of several nuclear weapons to US diplomats.
  • Ukraine – signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Inherited about 5,000 nuclear weapons when it became independent in 1991. It transferred all of these to Russia by 1996. ( However recent news has surfaced that due to a clerical error, Ukraine may still possess several hundred warheads which were not accounted for in the armaments repatriation move 14 years ago. In any case, even if Ukraine does possess these weapons, they are technically missing and not in a deployed state or any part of Ukraine’s defense posture.  (
  • Australia – From 1950 to the early 1970s Australia first attempted to gain access to British nuclear technology, then investigated a fully indigenous nuclear program on a number of occasions, going so far as to plan and begin clearing a site for a plutonium-producting nuclear reactor at Jarvis Bay in 1969, but abandoned its efforts at that time. Australia has large indigenous supplies of uranium. Currently Australia’s uranium exports policy prevents export for military purposes, but there have been allegations about Australian uranium ending up in nuclear weapons. Curiously for an industrialized nation that is also a major uranium supplier, Australia has no nuclear power plants. There are however, several nuclear reactors in Australia that produce radioactive materials mainly for medical purposes. Australia has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is now one of the strongest supporters of anti-profileration efforts. However in recent years several illicit internal informants within the ADF have leaked rumours that Australia received a small number of warheads from allies (most probably the United States) during the high-risk tension with Indonesia while intervening in East Timor.  (

(Info from wikipedia : )

That’s a lotta weapons!

So, why does everyone need these instruments of destruction?

The race to harness the power of the atom started in the World War II. The Manhattan Project, or more fully, the Manhattan Engineering District Project – was an effort during World War II to develop the first nuclear weapons by the United States with assistance from the United Kingdom and Canada. Both German and Allied scientists were desperate to develop the bomb, knowing that if the other side developed one first the war would be over – in a flash. Of course the US was successful in developing the technology first and used it to force Japan to surrender – but their tactical superiority all changed when Russia announced in 1949 that they too had deveolped the weapons.

The two countires began to stockpile their nuclear weapons, in an effort to be more prepared than the other – should one of them attack. Russia and America were locked in an arms race of the worst kind, both frantically producing thousands of nuclear based weapons and warheads. However, it was only America that pursued the policy of MAD – mutually assured destruction. This meant – and still does mean – allowing every American citizen to be held hostage by Russia. It means our only defence to a nuclear attack is one of our own, which does not save the lives of any of the hundreds of millions of people that would die in the strike. Isn’t that some wonderful news? Of course we’re ‘buddies’ with Russian now, so we don’t have to imminently fear them like through the 1950’s through the middle 1980’s.

Who would want to use a weapon of this nature?

Given that if either side of a massive super power country like the US or Russia were to use a weapon of this nature, the other would assuredly retaliate by launching their arsenal causing mutual destruction. This would mean hundreds of millions of casualties – depending on who else got involved. So what incentive do others have to try to acquire them? Terrorists and extremists who could potentially use them to either blackmail or detonate – to get the attention they demand.

Many terrorists would dream of creating such a weapon, but it would be cheaper and more effective to get ready made devices from the former USSR. The greatest risk from these could be the ‘suitcase bombs’ – nuclear weapons the size of briefcases, which a terrorist could simply walk into a city, a building, or a neighborhood with. The effects of such an attack would be terrifying.

suitcase nuke durty bomb


Why are suitcase bombs such a great risk?

Russia is know to have created around 200 suitcase bombs – nuclear weapons the size of suitcases. According to a Soviet defector called Aleksander Lebed it has seemingly lost track of more than 100 – each of which could kill more than 50,000 people (depending on where detonated). Many of these bombs were distributed and hidden in present day US hostile countries. Possibly the worst effect of a terrorist nuclear device would be that it could in fact trigger a nuclear war. If America thought Russia or an enemy country had used nuclear weapons against it, it would not hesitate to retaliate… so one small nuclear device could in fact trigger events that would killion millions.

Nuclear Holocaust

What is a nuclear holocaust?

A Nuclear holocaust is the possibility of a nearly complete annihilation of human civilization by nuclear warfare and weapons . Under this scenario, all or most of the Earth is made uninhabitable by nuclear weapons in future world wars or possibly world war 3.

A common definition for the word “holocaust” is “great destruction resulting in the extensive loss of life, especially by fire.” The word is derived from the Greek term “holokaustos” meaning “completely burnt.” Possibly the first printed use of the word “holocaust” to describe an imagined nuclear destruction is Reginald Glossop’s 1926: “Moscow … beneath them … a crash like a crack of Doom! The echoes of this Holocaust rumbled and rolled … a distinct smell of sulphur … atomic destruction.” In the 1960s the principal referent of the unmodified “holocaust” was nuclear destruction. Since the mid 1970s the capitalized term “Holocaust” has been closely associated with the Nazi mass slaughter of Jews (see Holocaust) and “holocaust” in its nuclear destruction sense is almost always preceded by “atomic” or “nuclear”.

Nuclear physicists and authors have speculated that nuclear holocaust could result in an end to human life, or at least to modern civilization on Earth due to the immediate effects of nuclear fallout, the loss of much modern technology due to electromagnetic pulses, or nuclear winter and resulting extinctions.

nuclear explosion castle bravo mushroom cloud

Nuclear holocaust in popular culture

The theme is widely used in dystopian fiction books, films, and video games.

One of the first depictions of a nuclear holocaust is included in Olaf Stapledon’s celebrated Last and First Men (1930). Unlike the post-1945 treatment of the subject, where the disaster is almost invariably the outcome of a war between states, Stapeldon depicts this holocaust as the result of class war between an arrogant ruling class and downtrodden miners in a future civilization. Abuse of the newly-discovered Atomic power source leads to what would now be called a chain reaction engulfing the entire world, so that “of the two hundred million members of the human race, all were burnt or roasted or suffocated – all but thirty-five, who happened to be in the neighborhood of the North Pole” (and from whom humanity is eventually regenerated for many more millions of years of existence).

Throughout the Cold War, nuclear holocaust was something many people in the developed world were afraid of because of a perceived likelihood of it occurring. The topic became somewhat less common after the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, as many of the works created during the Cold War were primarily just commentary on that conflict. Asiatic work that deals with the theme and western work influenced by it often borrow much imagery from American atomic bombings of the Japanese cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II in 1945. To this date, those bombings and the failure of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 remain the only nuclear disasters from which authors and screenwriters can draw real world experience with the aftermath of such instances.

Authors, directors, and game designers have approached the topic from a variety of angles and in every major media. Novels such as the Hugo Award-winning A Canticle for Leibowitz tell of a reemerging civilization several hundred years after the bombs fell, likening the civilization of the North American survivors to that of the dark ages in Europe. In other works, such as the Fallout series of video games, nuclear holocaust is used as a backdrop to a dystopian tale of mutant monsters and beasts. In many of these works, a partly forgotten nuclear holocaust provides a backdrop to a new creation story. In a similar vein, the book The City of Ember ties a nuclear holocaust in with the tale of a new civilization’s rise. In some, the holocaust seems complete. Nevil Shute’s 1957 novel On the Beach, for instance, chronicles the extinction of the human race by radioactive fallout in the months following a massive nuclear war; “There Will Come Soft Rains”, a famous short story by Ray Bradbury, depicts a world of alarm clocks and robotic vacuum cleaners operating endlessly in the absence of their owners. In the early 1980s made for television movies, Threads in Britain, The Day After and Testament in the United States dramatized the devastating effects on civilization of a world nuclear war. The Terminator series of movies (and its television counterpart about Sarah Connor) is oriented around a nuclear holocaust (called “Judgement Day”) triggered by a revolting artificial intelligence. Although not set on Earth, the reimagined Battlestar Galactica TV series depicts a human civilization inhabiting a system of twelve planets, where a race of robots known as Cylons, created by humans, rebel and carry out the Destruction of the Twelve Colonies by a nuclear holocaust. Three years later, the survivors of the attack arrive at Earth, which has also apparently suffered a nuclear holocaust (this not being the present day Earth, but a past Earth inhabited by Cylons).

The notable 1963 French art house film, La Jetée, is set in the post-World War III Parisian underground and the experiments that try to free humanity from its nuclear wasteland.

The Fallout video game series is set long after a nuclear holocaust, with small pockets of humanity trying to eke out an existence in the desert wasteland that was once America.

Mutually Assured Destruction – (MAD)

What is Mutually Assured Destruction?

Mutually assured destruction or  MAD – is a doctrine of military strategy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. It is based on the theory of deterrence according to which the deployment of strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons. The strategy is effectively a form of Nash equilibrium, in which both sides are attempting to avoid their worst possible outcome… nuclear annihilation.

nuclear war mututally assured destruction

How does mutually assured destruction work?

The doctrine assumes that each side has enough nuclear weaponry to destroy the other side and that either side, if attacked for any reason by the other, would retaliate with equal or greater force. The expected result is an immediate escalation resulting in both combatants’ total and assured destruction. It is now generally assumed that the nuclear fallout or nuclear winter resulting from a large scale nuclear war would bring about worldwide devastation, though this was not a critical assumption to the theory of MAD.

The doctrine further assumes that neither side will dare to launch a first strike because the other side will launch on warning (also called fail-deadly) or with secondary forces (second strike) resulting in the destruction of both parties. The payoff of this doctrine is expected to be a tense but stable peace.

The primary application of this doctrine started during the Cold War (1940s to 1990s) in which MAD was seen as helping to prevent any direct full-scale conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union while they engaged in smaller proxy wars around the world. It was also responsible for the arms race, as both nations struggled to keep nuclear parity, or at least retain second-strike capability. Although the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction certainly continues to be in force.

Proponents of MAD as part of U.S. and USSR strategic doctrine believed that nuclear war could best be prevented if neither side could expect to survive a full scale nuclear exchange as a functioning state. Since the credibility of the threat is critical to such assurance, each side had to invest substantial capital in their nuclear arsenals even if they were not intended for use. In addition, neither side could be expected or allowed to adequately defend itself against the other’s nuclear missiles. This led both to the hardening and diversification of nuclear delivery systems (such as nuclear missile silos, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear bombers kept at fail-safe points) and to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

This MAD scenario is often referred to as nuclear deterrence. The term deterrence was first used in this context after World War II; prior to that time, its use was limited to legal terminology.

In practice, the theory proved both utterly effective and exceptionally dangerous (e.g., Cuban Missile Crisis) through the end of the Cold War. Today, all lesser nations are believed to be keenly aware that any use of nuclear weapons, in any context, is the recipe for their annihilation. Significant nuclear powers, such as the United States, the Russian Federation, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), operate under the deterrent effect of potential retaliation with respect to “first use” in the conduct of brush fire wars and other lesser conflagrations. The U.S., as possessor of the largest and most deployable stockpile of nuclear weapons, continues to exercise its vast nuclear might as a cornerstone of its foreign policy with regard to rogue states and communist nations that currently or may soon possess nuclear weapons technology. U.S. military forces stand on permanent alert in order to deter potential nuclear adversaries. Likewise, non-democratic nations cannot use nuclear weapons against the U.S., or her critical allies (United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Germany, Israel, Australia, and South Korea) without threat of (as U.S. President John F. Kennedy said) a “full retaliatory” response by the United States.



Perhaps the earliest reference to the concept comes from the English author Wilkie Collins, writing at the time of the Franco-Prussian War in 1870: “I begin to believe in only one civilising influence—the discovery one of these days of a destructive agent so terrible that War shall mean annihilation and men’s fears will force them to keep the peace”.

Echoes of the doctrine can be found in the first document which outlined how the atomic bomb was a practical proposition. In March 1940, the Frisch-Peierls memorandum anticipated deterrence as the principal means of combating an enemy with nuclear weapons.

In practice during World War II, utter annihilation from the air had already been visited upon the enemies of the Allied forces, both in Europe and Japan, well before use of the Atomic Bomb, and with perhaps even deadlier results. The incendiary attacks on Dresden in Germany, e.g., and Tokyo in efforts to finally force surrender and end both the European and Pacific Wars, set the stage for the concepts of Total War and MAD.

Early Cold War

In August 1945, the United States accepted the surrender of Japan after the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Four years later, on August 29, 1949, the Soviet Union detonated its own nuclear weapon. At the time, both sides lacked the means to effectively use nuclear devices against each other. However, with the development of aircraft like the Convair B-36, both sides were gaining a greater ability to deliver nuclear weapons into the interior of the opposing country. The official nuclear policy of the United States was one of “massive retaliation”, as coined by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, which called for massive attack against the Soviet Union if they were to invade Europe, regardless of whether it was a conventional or a nuclear attack.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union truly developed an understanding of the effectiveness of the U.S. ballistic missile submarine forces, and work on Soviet ballistic missile submarines began in earnest. For the remainder of the Cold War, although official positions on MAD changed in the United States, the consequences of the second strike from ballistic missile submarines was never in doubt.

The multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) was another weapons system designed specifically to aid with the MAD nuclear deterrence doctrine. With a MIRV payload, one ICBM could hold many separate warheads. MIRVs were first created by the United States in order to counterbalance Soviet anti-ballistic missile systems around Moscow. Since each defensive missile could only be counted on to destroy one offensive missile, making each offensive missile have, for example, three warheads (as with early MIRV systems) meant that three times as many defensive missiles were needed for each offensive missile. This made defending against missile attacks more costly and difficult. One of the largest U.S. MIRVed missiles, the LGM-118A Peacekeeper, could hold up to 10 warheads, each with a yield of around 300 kilotons—all together, an explosive payload equivalent to 230 Hiroshima-type bombs. The multiple warheads made defense untenable with the technology available, leaving only the threat of retaliatory attack as a viable defensive option. MIRVed land-based ICBMs are considered destabilizing because they tend to put a premium on striking first. It is because of this that this type of weapon was banned under the START II agreement.

tsar bomba mututally assured destruction

In the event of a Soviet conventional attack on Western Europe, NATO planned to use tactical nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union countered this threat by issuing a statement that any use of nuclear weapons against Soviet forces, tactical or otherwise, was grounds for a full-scale Soviet retaliatory strike. As such, it was generally assumed that any combat in Europe would end with apocalyptic conclusions. The quote “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” is generally attributed to Albert Einstein.

Second strike capability

It was only with the advent of ballistic missile submarines, starting with the George Washington class in 1959, that a survivable nuclear force became possible and second strike capability credible. This was not fully understood until the 1960s when the strategy of mutually assured destruction was first fully described, largely by United States Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

In McNamara’s formulation, MAD meant that nuclear nations either had first strike or second strike capability. A nation with first strike capability would be able to destroy the entire nuclear arsenal of another nation and thus prevent any nuclear retaliation. Second strike capability indicated that a nation could uphold a promise to respond to a nuclear attack with enough force to make such a first attack highly undesirable. According to McNamara, the arms race was in part an attempt to make sure that no nation gained first strike capability.

An early form of second strike capability had already been provided by the use of continual patrols of nuclear-equipped bombers, with a fixed number of planes always in the air (and therefore untouchable by a first strike) at any given time. The use of this tactic was reduced however, by the high logistic difficulty of keeping enough planes active at all times, and the increasing priority given to ICBMs over bombers (which might be shot down by air defenses before reaching their targets).

Ballistic missile submarines established a second strike capability through their stealth and by the number fielded by each Cold War adversary—it was highly unlikely that all of them could be targeted and preemptively destroyed (in contrast to, for example, a missile bunker with a fixed location that could be targeted during a first strike). Given their long range, high survivability and ability to carry many medium- and long-range nuclear missiles, submarines were credible and effective means for full-scale retaliation even after a massive first strike.

Late Cold War

The original doctrine of U.S. MAD was modified on July 25, 1980, with U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s adoption of countervailing strategy with Presidential Directive 59. According to its architect, Secretary of Defense Harold Brown, “countervailing strategy” stressed that the planned response to a Soviet attack was no longer to bomb Russian population centers and cities primarily, but first to kill the Soviet leadership, then attack military targets, in the hope of a Russian surrender before total destruction of the USSR (and the United States). This modified version of MAD was seen as a winnable nuclear war, while still maintaining the possibility of assured destruction for at least one party. This policy was further developed by the Reagan Administration with the announcement of the Strategic Defense Initiative (nicknamed “Star Wars”), the goal of which was to develop space-based technology to destroy Soviet missiles before they reached the U.S.

SDI was criticized by both the Soviets and many of America’s allies (including Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher) because, were it ever operational and effective, it would have undermined the “assured destruction” required for MAD. If America had a guarantee against Soviet nuclear attacks, its critics argued, it would have first strike capability which would have been a politically and militarily destabilizing position. Critics further argued that it could trigger a new arms race, this time to develop countermeasures for SDI. Despite its promise of nuclear safety, SDI was described by many of its critics (including Soviet nuclear physicist and later peace activist Andrei Sakharov) as being even more dangerous than MAD because of these political implications. Supporters also argued that SDI could trigger a new arms race, forcing the USSR to spend an increasing proportion of GDP on defense – something which has been claimed to have been an indirect cause of the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union.

Proponents of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) argue that MAD is exceptionally dangerous in that it essentially offers a single course of action in the event of nuclear attack: full retaliatory response. The fact that nuclear proliferation has led to an increase in the number of nations in the “nuclear club“, including nations of questionable stability (Pakistan, Communist North Korea, Israel and Iran, e.g.), and that a nuclear nation might be hijacked by a despot or other person or persons who might use nuclear weapons without sane regard for the consequences, presents a strong case for proponents of BMD who seek a policy which both protects against attack, but also does not require an escalation into what might become global nuclear war. Russia continues to have a strong public distaste for Western BMD initiatives, presumably because proprietary operative BMD systems could exceed their technical and financial resources, and therefore degrade their larger military standing and sense of security in a post-MAD environment. Russian refusal to accept invitations to participate in NATO BMD may be indicative of the lack of an alternative to MAD in current Russian nuclear-war-fighting strategy and capability, as well as continuation of historical unwillingness to meaningfully cooperate with other nations (past or present) in the nuclear realm.

Post Cold War

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia emerged as a sovereign entity encompassing most of the territory of the former USSR. Relations between the U.S. and this new power have been less tense then they had been with its predecessor. Tensions also decreased between the U.S and China.

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in June 2002, claiming that the limited national missile defense system which they propose to build is designed only to prevent nuclear blackmail by a state with limited nuclear capability and is not planned to alter the nuclear posture between Russia and the United States.

While relations have improved and an intentional nuclear exchange is increasingly unlikely, the decay in Russian nuclear capability in the post Cold War era has had an effect on the continued viability of the MAD doctrine. An article by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press stated that the United States could carry out a nuclear first strike on Russia and would “have a good chance of destroying every Russian bomber base, submarine, and ICBM.” This was attributed to reductions in Russian nuclear stockpiles and the increasing inefficiency and age of that which remains. Lieber and Press argued that the MAD era is coming to an end and that U.S. is on the cusp of global nuclear primacy.

However, in a follow up article in the same publication, others criticized the analysis, including Peter Flory, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, who began by writing “The essay by Keir Lieber and Daryl Press contains so many errors, on a topic of such gravity, that a Department of Defense response is required to correct the record.” Regarding reductions in Russian stockpiles, another response stated that “a similarly one-sided examination of [reductions in] U.S. forces would have painted a similarly dire portrait”.

As usual, a situation in which the United States might actually be expected to carry out a “successful” attack is perceived as a disadvantage for both countries, since Russia might feel forced to attempt a similar action first.

An outline of current United States nuclear strategy toward both Russia and other nations was published as the document “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence” in 1995.

Official policy

Whether MAD was the officially accepted doctrine of the United States military during the Cold War is largely a matter of interpretation. The term MAD was not coined by the military but was, however, based on the policy of “Assured Destruction” advocated by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the 1960s. The United States Air Force, for example, has retrospectively contended that it never advocated MAD as a sole strategy, and that this form of deterrence was seen as one of numerous options in U.S. nuclear policy. Former officers have emphasized that they never felt as limited by the logic of MAD (and were prepared to use nuclear weapons in smaller scale situations than “Assured Destruction” allowed), and did not deliberately target civilian cities (though they acknowledge that the result of a “purely military” attack would certainly devastate the cities as well). MAD was implied in several U.S. policies and used in the political rhetoric of leaders in both the U.S. and the USSR during many periods of the Cold War.

Criticism and challengable assumptions

Critics of the MAD doctrine note the similarity between the acronym and the common word for mental illness. The doctrine of nuclear deterrence depends on several challengeable assumptions:

Second-strike capability

  • A first strike must not be capable of preventing a retaliatory second strike or else mutual destruction is not assured. In this case, a state would have nothing to lose with a first strike; or might try to preempt the development of an opponent’s second-strike capability with a first strike (i.e., decapitation strike).

Perfect detection

  • No false positives (errors) in the equipment and/or procedures that must identify a launch by the other side. The implication of this is that an accident could lead to a full nuclear exchange. During the Cold War there were several instances of false positives, as in the case of Stanislav Petrov.
  • No possibility of camouflaging a launch. The use of stealth technology in for instance aircraft such as the B-2 bomber makes this assumption less likely to be fulfilled.
  • No means of delivery that does not have the characteristics of a long range missile delivery, i.e. detectable far ahead of detonation. Again this assumption is challengeable with for instance stealth aircraft but also with other means, such as smuggling weapons to the target undetected. A close range missile attack from a submarine would also negate this assumption, as would positioning the weapons close to the intended target (exemplified in the Cuban Missile Crisis).
  • Perfect attribution. If there is a launch from the Sino-Russian border, it could be difficult to distinguish which nation is responsible and, hence, against which nation retaliation should occur.

Perfect rationality

  • No “rogue states” will develop nuclear weapons. Or, if they do, they will stop behaving as rogue states and subject themselves to the logic of MAD.
  • No rogue commanders will have the ability to corrupt the launch decision process.
  • All leaders with launch capability care about the survival of their subjects.
  • No leader with launch capability would strike first and gamble that the opponent’s response system would fail.

Inability to defend

  • No shelters sufficient to protect population and/or industry.
  • No development of anti-missile technology or deployment of remedial protective gear.


Doomsday Device

What is a doomsday device?

A doomsday device is a hypothetical construction – normally a weapon – which could destroy all life on the Earth, or destroy the Earth itself – bringing “doomsday” , a term used for the end of planet Earth.

Doomsday devices have been present in literature and art especially in the 20th century, when advances in science and technology made world destruction (or at least the eradication of all human life) a credible scenario. Many classics in the genre of science fiction take up the theme in this respect.

What are some common “doomsday devices?”

After the advent of nuclear weapons, especially hydrogen bombs , they have usually been the dominant components of doomsday devices. RAND strategist Herman Kahn, collaborating with risk analyst Ian Harold Brown, proposed a “Doomsday Machine” in the 1950s which would consist of a computer linked to a stockpile of hydrogen bombs, programmed to detonate them all and bathe the planet in nuclear fallout at the signal of an impending nuclear attack from another nation. Such a scheme, fictional as it was, epitomized for many the extremes of the suicidal logic behind the strategy of mutually assured destruction, and it was famously parodied in the Stanley Kubrick film from 1963, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. It is also a main topic of the 1970 movie Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in parallel with the species extermination theme. Most such models either rely on the fact that hydrogen bombs can be made arbitrarily large assuming there are no concerns about delivering them to a target or that they can be “salted” with materials designed to create long-lasting and hazardous fallout .

Other fictional devices of this nature are made by aliens to kill off mankind, or all life on earth, for various reasons, ranging from ‘saving’ the earth from mankind’s destructive nature to invasion of the planet to simply them being a genocidal kind.

Cybernetic Revolt

What is a Cybernetic / Robotic Revolt?

A Cybernetic revolt is a scenario in which AIs (either a single supercomputer, a computer network, or sometimes a “race” of intelligent machines) decide that humans are a threat (either to the machines or to themselves) or are oppressors and try to destroy or to enslave them potentially leading to Machine Rule. In this fictional scenario, humans are often depicted to prevail using “human” qualities, for example using emotions, illogic, inefficiency, duplicity, or exploiting the supposedly rigid, rules-based thinking and lack of innovation of the computer’s black/white mind.

While this is mainly a fictional scenario, some academics and researchers have called for society to confront the ramifications of machine intelligence before it is possible such intelligence’s might be programmed.

robot revolution danger danger


How could machines take over the world?

Fear of humanity being made obsolete by technology taps into some of modern humans’ deepest fears. This can be shown to have been the case even before the computer became prominent, as in Karel Capek‘s play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), Charlie Chaplin’s movie Modern Times and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis shows. However, even as he was slowly being displaced from most physical tasks, man has always prided himself on his brain, taking the mechanistic ‘thoughts’ of early computers as proof that he would not be overtaken by his ‘Frankenstein’ creations.

While artificial intelligence, in terms of a replication of human intelligence, is still a remote concept, successes in certain parts of intelligence — as for example in the victories of the Deep Blue chess computer — have shaken mankind’s certainty about its permanent place at the top of sapience.

Are computers smart enough to rebel against people?

As Moore’s law has shown, computer power has (seemingly) limitless growth potential. While there are physical constraints to the speed at which modern microprocessors can function, scientists are already developing means that might eventually supersede these limits, such as quantum computers. As futurist and computer scientist Raymond Kurzweil has noted, “There are physical limits to computation, but they’re not very limiting.” If this process of growth continues, and existing problems in creating artificial intelligence are overcome, sentient machines are likely to immediately hold an enormous advantage in at least some forms of mental capability, including the capacity of perfect recall, a vastly superior knowledge base, and the ability to multitask in ways not possible to biological entities. This may give them the opportunity to— either as a single being or as a new species — become much more powerful than humans, and to displace them.

Necessity of conflict

For a cybernetic revolt to be inevitable, it has to be postulated that two intelligent species cannot pursue mutually the goals of coexisting peacefully in an overlapping environment—especially if one is of much more advanced intelligence and power. While a cybernetic revolt (where the machine is the more advanced species) is thus a possible outcome of machines gaining sentience and/or sapience, neither can it be disproven that a peaceful outcome is possible. The fear of a cybernetic revolt is often based on interpretations of humanity’s history, which is rife with incidents of enslavement and genocide.

Such fears stem from a belief that competitiveness and aggression are necessary in any intelligent being’s goal system. Such human competitiveness stems from the evolutionary background to our intelligence, where the survival and reproduction of genes in the face of human and non-human competitors was the central goal. In fact, an arbitrary intelligence could have arbitrary goals: there is no particular reason that an artificially-intelligent machine (not sharing humanity’s evolutionary context) would be hostile—or friendly—unless its creator programs it to be such (and indeed military systems would be designed to be hostile, at least under certain circumstances).

Some scientists dispute the likelihood of cybernetic revolts as depicted in science fiction such as The Matrix, claiming that it is more likely that any artificial intelligences powerful enough to threaten humanity would probably be programmed not to attack it. This would not, however, protect against the possibility of a revolt initiated by terrorists, or by accident. Artificial General Intelligence researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky has stated on this note that, probabilistically, humanity is less likely to be threatened by deliberately aggressive AIs than by AIs which were programmed such that their goals are unintentionally incompatible with human survival or well-being (as in the modern film I, Robot and in the novel The Evitable Conflict).

Another factor which may negate the likelihood of a cybernetic revolt is the vast difference between humans and AIs in terms of the resources necessary for survival. Humans require a “wet,” organic, temperate, oxygen-laden environment while an AI might thrive essentially anywhere because their construction and energy needs would most likely be largely non-organic. With little or no competition for resources, conflict would perhaps be less likely no matter what sort of motivational architecture an artificial intelligence was given, especially provided with the superabundance of non-organic material resources in, for instance, the asteroid belt. This, however, does not negate the possibility of a disinterested or unsympathetic AI artificially decomposing all life on earth into mineral components for consumption or other purposes.

Other scientists point to the possibility of humans upgrading their capabilities with bionics and/or genetic engineering and, as cyborgs, becoming the dominant species in themselves.

Technological singularity

Some groups, called Singularitarians, who advocate what might be defined as a peaceful (non-violent, non-invasive, non-coercive) cybernetic revolt known as a ‘technological singularity’, argue that it is in humanity’s best interests to bring about such an event, as long as it can be ensured that the event would be beneficial. They postulate that a society run by intelligent machines (or cyborgs) could potentially be vastly more efficient than a society run by human beings. A society led by friendly, altruistic sentience’s of this type would therefore be to humanity’s great benefit. To this end, there has been much recent work in what has become known as Friendliness Theory, which holds that, as advocate and AI researcher Eliezer Yudkowsky states, “… you ought to be able to reach into ‘mind-design-space’ (i.e. the hypothetical realm which contains all possible intelligent minds) and pull out a mind (design an intelligent machine) such that afterwards, you’re glad you made it real.”

Chemical Warfare

What is Chemical Warfare?

Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using non-explosive chemical agents to kill, injure or incapacitate the enemy. Living organisms (including viruses) are not considered chemical warfare: their use is instead labeled biological warfare.

Chemical weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations according to UN Resolution 687, and its production and stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993.

chemical warfare mustard attack


Chemical Warfare Agents

The chemical used is called a chemical warfare agent (CWA), and is usually gasseous at room temperature, or is a liquid that evaporates quickly and generates toxic fumes (such liquids are said to be volatile or have a high vapor pressure).

The main types of chemical warfare agents are as follows:

Blood agents, usually based on cyanide, that prevent the normal use of oxygen by the body tissues, resulting in chemical asphyxiation.
Vesicants (or blister agents), such as mustard gas and Lewisite, that cause blistering of the skin. They are designed to incapacitate rather than kill, with the goal of overloading the medical facilities of the region.

Pulmonary agents (or choking agents, lung toxicants) that impede a victim’s ability to breathe, resulting in suffocation. Examples include chlorine and phosgene. These were commonly used in World War I, but were rendered mostly obsolete by the more effective nerve agents.

Nerve agents, such as sarin and VX, inhibit the breakdown of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the victim’s nerves. Nerve agents are hundreds to thousands times more lethal than blister, pulmonary or blood agents.
Incapacitating agents are less-lethal agents that produce temporary physiological or mental effects in their victims, making them unable to perform organized actions. An example is BZ, which produces massive hallucinations in those exposed to it.
Lachrymatory agents that sting and irritate the eyes to cause pain and temporary blindness, such as tear gas and pepper spray. In recent decades these agents are usually used for riot-control purposes, therefore they are also often called riot control agents.

Not considered to be chemical weapon agents are:
Defoliants that destroy vegetation, but are not immediately toxic to human beings.
Viruses, bacteria, or other organisms, or their toxic products. Their use is classified as biological warfare.

Chemical warfare in ancient and classical times

Chemical weapons have been used for millenia in the form of poisoned arrows, but evidence can be found for the existence of more advanced forms of chemical weapons in ancient and classical times.

Dating from the 4th century BC, writings of the Mohist sect in China describe the use of bellows to pump smoke from burning balls of mustard and other toxic vegetables into tunnels being dug by a beseiging army. Even older Chinese writings dating back to about 1000 BC contain hundreds of recipes for the production of poisonous or irritating smokes for use in war along with numerous accounts of their use. From these accounts we know of the arsenic-containing “soul-hunting fog”, and the use of finely divided lime dispersed into the air to suppress a peasant revolt in 178 AD.

The earliest recorded use of gas warfare in the West dates back to the 5th century BC, during During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Spartan forces besieging an Athenian city placed a lighted mixture of wood, pitch, and sulfur under the walls hoping that the noxious smoke would incapacitate the Athenians so that they would not be able to resist the assault that followed. Sparta wasn’t alone in its use of unconventional tactics during these wars: Solon of Athens is said to have used hellebore roots to poison the water in an aqueduct leading from the Pleistrus River around 590 BC during the siege of Cirrha.

The rediscovery of chemical warfare

During the Renaissance, people again began to consider the use of chemical warfare. One of the earliest such references is from Leonardo da Vinci, who proposed a powder of sulfide of arsenic and verdigris in the 15th century:
throw poison in the form of powder upon galleys. Chalk, fine sulfide of arsenic, and powdered verdegris may be thrown among enemy ships by means of small mangonels, and all those who, as they breathe, inhale the powder into their lungs will become asphyxiated.

It is unknown whether this powder was ever actually used.

In the 1600s, it was a common practice during seiges to attempt to start fires by launching incendiary shells filled with sulphur, tallow, rosin, turpentine, saltpeter, and/or antimony. It was quickly observed that even when fires were not started, the resulting smoke and fumes would provide, at the very least, a considerable distraction. Although the primary function as fire starters was never abandoned, a variety of fills for shells were developed that were intended to maximize the effects of the smoke.

In 1672, during his siege of the city of Groningen, Christoph Bernhard van Galen, the Bishop of Münster, employed several different explosive and incendiary devices, some of which had a fill that included belladonna, intended to produce toxic fumes. Just three years later, August 27, 1675, the French and the Germans concluded the Strasbourg Agreement, which included an article banning the use of “perfidious and odious” toxic devices.

In 1854, Lyon Playfair, a British chemist, proposed a cacodyl cyanide artillery shell for use against enemy ships as way to solve the stalemate during the siege of Sevastopol, a proposal backed by Admiral Thomas Cochrane of the Royal Navy. It was considered by the British Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, but the British Ordnance Department rejected the proposal as “bad a mode of warfare as poisoning the wells of the enemy.” Playfair’s response was used to justify chemical warfare into the next century:
There was no sense in this objection. It is considered a legitimate mode of warfare to fill shells with molten metal which scatters among the enemy, and produced the most frightful modes of death. Why a poisonous vapor which would kill men without suffering is to be considered illegitimate warfare is incomprehensible. War is destruction, and the more destructive it can be made with the least suffering the sooner will be ended that barbarous method of protecting national rights. No doubt in time chemistry will be used to lessen the suffering of combatants, and even of criminals condemned to death.

Later, during the American Civil War, a New York school teacher named John Doughty proposed the offensive use of chlorine gas, delivered by filling a 10-in. artillery shell with 2 to 3 quarts of liquid chlorine. When released, such a shell would produce many cubic feet of chlorine gas. Doughty’s plan was apparently never acted on, as it was probably presented to Brigadier General James W. Ripley, Chief of Ordnance, who was described as being congenitally immune to new ideas.


Chemical warfare in World War I

The first full-scale deployment of chemical warfare agents was during World War I, originating in the Second Battle of Ypres, April 22, 1915, when the Germans attacked French and Algerian with chlorine gas. Since then a total 50,965 tons of pulmonary, lachrymatory, and vesicant agents were deployed by both sides of the conflict, including chlorine, mustard gas, and phosgene gas. Offical figures decare about 1,176,500 non-fatal casualties and 85,000 fatalities directly caused by chemical warfare agents during the course of the war.

poison gas ww1

Unexploded WWI-era chemical ammunition, up to this day, is still commonly uncovered when the ground is dug in former battle or depot areas and continues to pose a threat to the civilian population in Belgium and France. The French and Belgian governments have had to launch special programs for treating discovered ammunition. The United States has a non-stockpile chemical materials program to identify former CW burial sites within the United States and to excavate, transport, and dispose of old chemical munitions.

Chemical warfare in the interwar years

After the First World War, the United States and many of the European powers attempted take advantage of the opportunities that the war created by attempting to establish and hold colonies. During this interwar period, chemical agents were occasionally used to subdue populations and suppress rebellion.

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1917, the Ottoman government collapsed completely and the former empire was divided amongst the victorious powers in the Treaty of Sèvres. The British occupied Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and established a colonial government.

In 1920, the Arab and Kurdish people of Mesopotamia revolted against the British occupation, which cost the British dearly. As the Iraqi resistance gained strength, the British resorted to increasingly repressive measures, and Winston Churchill himself, in his role as Colonial Secretary, authorized the use of chemical agents, mostly mustard gas, on the Mesopotamian resistors. Mindful of the financial cost of supressing the dissidents, Churchill was confident that chemical weapons could be inexpensively employed against the Mesopotamian tribes, saying “I do not understand this sqeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.” Although opposition to the use of gas and technical difficulties prevented the gas from being used in Mesopotamia, the records of British consideration of poison gas, including Churchill’s enthusiasm, were suppressed for many years until the records were released in 1980.

Chemical weapons had caused so much misery and revulsion in the First World War that their use had become the ultimate atrocity in the minds of most people at the time. So much so, in fact, that in 1925, sixteen the world’s major nations signed the Geneva Protocol, thereby pledging never to use gas or bacteriological methods of warfare. While the United States signed the protocol, the Senate did not ratify it until 1975.

In 1935 Fascist Italy used mustard gas during the invasion of Ethiopia. Ignoring the Geneva Protocol, which it signed seven years earlier, the Italian military dropped mustard gas in bombs, sprayed it from airplanes, and spread it in powdered form on the ground. 15,000 chemical casualties were reported, mostly from mustard gas.

Chemical warfare in World War II

The chemical structure of sarin nerve gas, discovered by Germany in 1938.

During World War II, chemical warfare was revolutionized by the Nazi’s accidental discovery of the nerve agents tabun, sarin and soman. The Nazis developed and manufactured large quantities of several agents, including the newly discovered nerve agents, but chemical warfare agents were not extensively used by either side. Recovered Nazi documents suggest that during that time, German intelligence incorrectly thought that the Allies also knew of these compounds, interpreting the lack of discussion of these compounds the Allies’ scientific journals as evidence that information about them was being suppressed. Germany ultimately decided not to use the new nerve agents against Allied targets, fearing a potentially devastating Allied retaliatory nerve agent deployment.

Although chemical weapons were not deployed on a large scale during World War II, there were some recorded uses of them by the Axis powers, when retailiation wasn’t feared:

The Japanese used mustard gas and the recently-developed blister agent Lewisite against Chinese troops. During these attacks, the Japanese also employed biological warfare by intentionally spreading cholera, dysentery, typhoid, plague, and anthrax.
In 1944, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, the senior Islamic religious authority of the Palestinian Arabs and close ally of Adolf Hitler, sponsored an unsuccessful chemical warfare assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Five parachutists were supplied with with maps of Tel Aviv, canisters of a German-manufactured “fine white powder,” and instructions from the Mufti to dump chemicals into the Tel Aviv water system. District police commander Fayiz Bey Idrissi later recalled, “The laboratory report stated that each container held enough poison to kill 25,000 people, and there were at least ten containers.”

The Nazis used the insecticide Zyklon B, which contains hydrogen cyanide, to kill large numbers of victims in concentration camps such as Auschwitz and Madajnek during the Holocaust.


Chemical warfare during The Cold War

After World War II, the Allies recovered German artillery shells containing the three German nerve agents of the day (tabun, sarin, and soman) prompting further research into nerve agents by all of the former Allies. Although although the threat of global thermonuclear annihilation was formost in the minds of most during the Cold War, both the Soviet and Western governments put enormous resources into developing chemical and biological weapons.

A UN working group began work on chemical disarmament in 1980. On April 4, 1984 U.S. President Ronald Reagan called for an international ban on chemical weapons. U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a bilateral treaty on June 1, 1990 to end chemical weapon production and start destroying each of their nation’s stockpiles. The multilateral Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was signed in 1993 and came into effect in 1997.

Developments by the Western governments

In 1952, researchers in Porton Down, England invented the VX nerve agent, but soon abandoned the project. In 1958 the British government traded their VX technology with the United States of America in exchange for information on thermonuclear weapons; by 1961 the US was producing large amounts of VX, and performing its own nerve agent research. This research produced at least three more agents; the four agents (VE, VG, VM, VX) are collectively known as the “V-Series” class of nerve agents.

Between 1967 and 1968, the U.S. decided to dispose of obsolete chemical weapons in an operation called Operation CHASE, which stood for “cut holes and sink ’em.” CHASE disposal operations also included several shiploads of conventional munitions. As the name implies, the weapons were put aboard old Liberty ships that were sunk at sea.

During the 1960s, the U.S. explored the use of psychedelic incapacitating agents. One of these agents, assigned the weapon designation BZ, was allegedly used in the Vietnam War.

In 1969, 23 U.S. servicemen and one U.S. civilian stationed in Okinawa, Japan were exposed to low levels of nerve agent sarin while repainting the depots’ buildings. The weapons had been kept secret from Japan, sparking a furor in Japan and an international incident. These munitions were moved in 1971 to Johnston Atoll under Operation Red Hat.

Developments by the Soviet government

Due to the secrecy of the former Communist regime of the Soviet Union, very little information was available about the direction and progress of the Soviet chemical weapons until relatively recently. After the fall of the Soviet Empire, a Russian chemist named Vil Mirzayanov publishing articles that revealed illegal chemical weapons experimentation in Russia. In 1993, Mirzayanov was imprisoned and fired from his job at the State Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, where he had worked for 26 years. In March of 1994, after a major campaign by U.S. scientists on his behalf, Mirzayanov was released.

Among the information related by Vil Mirzayanov was the direction of the Soviet research into nerve agents toward the development of even more toxic agents, which saw most of its success during the mid-1980s. Several highly toxic agents were developed during this period; the only unclassified information regarding these agents is that they are known in the open literature only as “Foliant” agents (named after the program under which they were developed) and by various code designations, such as A-230 and A-232.

According to Mirzayanov, the Soviets also developed agents that were safer to handle, leading to the development of the so-called binary weapons, in which precursors for the nerve agents are mixed in a munition to produce the agent just prior to its use. Because the precursors are generally significantly less hazardous than the agents themselves, this technique makes handling and transporting the munitions a great deal simpler. Additionally, precursors to the agents are usually much easier to stabilize than the agents themselves, so this technique also made it possible to increase the shelf life of the agents a great deal. During the 1980s and 1990s, binary versions of several Soviet agents were developed, and are designated as “Novichok” agents (after the Russian word for “newcomer”).

Chemical warfare in the Iran-Iraq War

The Iran-Iraq War began in 1980 when Iraq attack Iran. Early in the conflict Iraq began to employ mustard gas and tabun delivered by bombs drop from airplanes. Approximately 5% of all Iranian casualties are attributable directly to the use of these agents. Iraq and the United States government alleged that Iran was also using chemical weapons, but independent sources were unable to confirm these allegations.

Shortly after war ended in 1988, the Iraqi Kurdish village of Halabja was exposed to multiple chemical agents, killing about 5,000 of the town’s 50,000 residents. After the incident, traces of mustard gas, and the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX were discovered. While it appears that Iraqi government forces are to blame, some debate continues over the question of whether Iraq was really the responsible party, and whether this was a deliberate or accidental act. (see Halabja poison gas attack).

During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, Coalition forces began a ground war in Iraq. Despite the fact that they did possess chemical weapons, Iraq did not use any chemical agents against coalition forces. The commander of the Allied Forces, Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, suggested this may have been due to Iraqi fear of retaliation with nuclear weapons.

Biological Warfare

What is Biological Warfare?

Biological warfare, also known as germ warfare, is the use of any organism (bacteria, virus and other disease-causing organisms) or toxins found in nature, as a weapon of war. It is meant to incapacitate or kill an enemy. Biological warfare is a cause for concern because a successful attack could conceivably result in thousands, possibly even millions, of deaths and could cause severe disruptions to societies and economies. They can be released to one person and go on to spread to infect thousands or possibly even millions. Something of this nature would cause immediate panic, and economic shutdown – another powerful effect of such weapons.

biological war warfare weapons chemical weapons


Where have Biological weapons been used before?

The use of biological agents is not new, but before the 20th century, biological warfare took three main forms:

  • deliberate poisoning of food and water with infectious material,
  • use of microorganisms or toxins in a weapon system
  • use of biologically inoculated fabrics
  • native peoples in Aptos gave to Spaniards gifts of freshly cut flowers wrapped in leaves of poison oak
Biological warfare has been practiced repeatedly throughout history. In 184 BC, Carthaginian leader Hannibal had clay pots filled with poisonous snakes and instructed his soldiers to throw the pots onto the decks of Pergamene ships.

During the Middle Ages victims of the Black Death were used for biological attacks, often by flinging their corpses and excrement over castle walls using catapults. The last known incident of using plague corpses for biological warfare occurred in 1710, when Russian forces attacked the Swedes by flinging plague-infected corpses over the city walls of Reval.

Several colonists settling in North and South America are now famous for waging biological warfare by distributing items infected with smallpox to indigenous populations. Francisco Pizarro distributed clothing infected with smallpox to South American peoples in the 16th century, Hernán Cortés infected the Aztec population in the early 16th century, Jeffrey Amherst distributed smallpox infected blankets to Native Americans sympathetic to France during the French and Indian War, and Captain Ecuyer of the Royal Americans distributed blankets and handkerchiefs to Native Americans in 1763.

During the United States Civil War, General Sherman reported that Confederate forces shot farm animals in ponds upon which the Union depended for drinking water.

Use of such weapons was banned in international law by the Geneva Protocol of 1925. The 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention extended the ban to almost all production, storage and transport. It is, however, believed that since the signing of the convention the number of countries capable of producing such weapons has increased.

During the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and World War II, Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army conducted human experimentation on thousands, mostly Chinese. In military campaigns, the Japanese army used biological weapons on Chinese soldiers and civilians.

Research carried out in the United Kingdom during World War II left a Scottish Island contaminated with anthrax for the next 48 years.

Considerable research on the topic was performed by the United States, the Soviet Union , and probably other major nations throughout the Cold War era, though it is generally believed that such weapons were never used. In 1972, the U.S. signed the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, which banned “development, production, stockpiling, and use of microbes or their poisonous products except in amounts necessary for protective and peaceful research.”

In 1986, the U.S. government spent $42 million on research for infectious diseases and toxins, ten times more money than was spent in 1981. The money went to 24 U.S. universities in hopes of developing strains on anthrax, Rift Valley fever, Japanese encephalitis, tularemia, shigella, botulin, and Q fever. When the Biology Department at MIT voted to refuse Pentagon funds for biotech research, the Reagan administration forced it to reverse its decision by threatening to cut off other funds.

There have been reports that United States Army has been developing weapons-grade anthrax spores at a biological and chemical weapons facility in Utah at least since 1992. However, the United States had and maintains a stated policy of never using biological weapons under any circumstances.

1984 Rajneeshee Salomenalla Attack

In a small town of The Dalles in Oregon, followers of the Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh (the Rajneeshee Cult) attempted to control a local election by infecting salad bars with Salmonella. The attack caused about 900 people to get sick. It is considered the first ever bioterrorism case in the US history.

2001 Anthrax Attack

In September and October of 2001, several cases of anthrax broke out in the United States in the 2001 anthrax attacks, caused deliberately. This was a well-publicized act of bioterrorism. It motivated efforts to define bio defense and bio security, where more limited definitions of bio safety had focused on unintentional or accidental impacts of agricultural and medical technologies.

How could they be distributed?

There are multiple ways in which they could be distributed. Russia (the USSR) developed techniques using missiles and bombs to spread the deadly pathogens. Anthrax was recently deployed using the post offices. Al Queda may have attempted to acquire crop-dusting planes, which could be used to spread pathogens to millions. Terrorists could release them in ventilation systems to spread them across an office building.

However they are spread, infectious pathogens could soon be passed to others, leading to enormous casualties thousands of times greater than the original number infected.

biological warfare weapons bio terrorism


Which are the most Lethal?

These are biological agents with both a high potential for adverse public health impact and that also have a serious potential for large-scale dissemination. The Category A agents are anthrax, smallpox, plague, botulism, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers.


  • Anthrax : Anthrax is a bacteria with a highly resistant spore form. It is highly infectious and lethal when inhaled. It is a one-time agent that does not spread from one person to another. An anthrax vaccine does exist but requires many injections and has enough side-effects that it is considered unsuitable for general use.
  • Smallpox : Smallpox is a highly contagious virus. It transmits easily through the atmosphere and has a high mortality rate (up to 30%). Smallpox was eliminated in the world in the 1970s thanks to a worldwide vaccination program. However, some virus are still available in Russian and American laboratories. It is also believed it could be available in other labs.
  • Botulism: Botulism is one the deadliest toxins caused by a bacteria. Botulism causes respiratory failure and paralysis.
  • Ebola: Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever. It is extremely lethal, with no cure. The symptoms are profuse bleeding from the orifices.
  • Plague: Plague is a highly contagious bacteria. It causes a type of pneumonia and may be fatal.
  • Marburg: Marburg is a viral hemorrhagic disease. It is extremely lethal, with no cure.
  • Tularemia: Tularemia is a bacteria, responsible for non-lethal but extremely incapacitating diseases (weight loss, fever, headaches, and often pneumonia).

The United States’ biological warfare program began during WWII. But, it came to a halt in 1969, when President Nixon reviewed the program, decided it was wrong, and ordered the destruction of all weapons. Part of the decision was due to the availability in nuclear defense, which, it was thought, made it unnecessary to develop biological weapons since it would make it possible for other countries to develop them as well.

Today, several countries have or are developing biological warfare programs. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, more than ten countries have, or are developing biological warfare programs, among which, The United States of America, Russia, Israel, Egypt, China, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea.

Man-Made Disasters List

 Atomic Age

trinity nuke atomic age

Just before the sun rose over Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16th, 1945 – the world’s first atomic bomb, dubbed “trinity” by its builders, sat on its 100 foot tower awaiting the electronic signal that would mark the beginning of the nuclear age.

Biological Warfare biological warfare toxic weapons chemicals

Biological warfare , also known as germ warfare, is the use of any
organism (bacteria,
virus and other disease-causing organisms) or
toxins found in nature, as a weapon of war. It is meant to  incapacitate or kill an enemy.

Warfare chemical warfare chamical weapons

Chemical warfare is warfare (and associated military operations) using non-explosive chemical agents to kill, injure or incapacitate the enemy. Living organisms (including  viruses ) are not  considered chemical warfare: their use is instead labelled biological


cybernetic revolt machines intelligence

A Cybernetic revolt is a scenario in which AIs (either a single supercomputer, a
computer network, or sometimes a “race” of intelligent machines) decide that humans are a threat (either to the machines or to themselves) or are oppressors and try to destroy or to enslave them potentially leading to Machine Rule.

Doomsday device 

doomsday device

A doomsday device is a hypothetical construction – normally a weapon – which could destroy all life on the Earth, or destroy the Earth itself – bringing “doomsday”, a term used for the end of planet Earth. Doomsday devices have been present in literature and art especially in the 20th century, when advances in science and technology made world destruction (or at least the eradication of all human life ) a credible scenario.

Mutually Assured  Destruction 

mutually assured destruction nukes

Mutually assured destruction or  MAD – is a doctrine of military strategy in  which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would  effectively result in the destruction of both the attacker and the defender. It is  based on the theory of deterrence according to which the deployment of  strong weapons is essential to threaten the enemy in order to prevent the use of the very same weapons.

Nuclear holocaust 

nuclear holocaust weapons

A Nuclear holocaust is the possibility of a nearly complete annhilation of human civilization by nuclear warfare and weapons . Under this scenario, all or most of the Earth is made uninhabitable by nuclear weapons in future world  wars or possibly world war 3.

Nuclear Weapons

nuclear weapons bombs

A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as  the result of nuclear chain reactions involving the fission or fusion or both, of atomic nuclei. Basically it is any device that harnesses  the immense power of the atom to create a bomb or explosive  device. Even more simplified, they are essentially nothing more  than huge bombs – with a unique exception – they have the potential to destroy entire cities.
Clock / Overpopulation
overpopulation over population clock
Population growth is similar to compound interest. More
people tends to mean more babies, even if some of those people practice
realistic birth control. Most experts agree that, barring massive
disasters, the population will continue to expand. But some specialists
point out that Mother Earth tends to whittle down species’ populations
when they get out of control. She knows exactly how many people,
dinosaurs, passenger pigeons, mastodons, and so on she can feed. When
that number is surpassed, any number of things can happen to reduce the
excess. See also : Human
Population Control


suitcase bomb nuclear dirty weapon

A suitcase
is a bomb which uses a suitcase as its delivery method.
While conventional bombs can be hidden in any type of container,
suitcase bombs have been threats primarily in two different contexts:
conventional bombs in suitcases on airplanes (where there are many
suitcases, and where even a small bomb will cause a crash), and
suitcases with small

Doomsday Clock 

doomsday clock nuclear war

The Doomsday
is a symbolic clockface maintained since 1947 by the
Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It uses
the analogy of the human race being at a time that is a ‘few minutes to
midnight’ where midnight represents destruction by nuclear


tsar bomba biggest nuke ever detonated

, or “Tsar-bomb,” is the nickname for the
RDS-202 hydrogen bomb (code namedIvan” by its
developers) the largest and most powerful nuclear
ever detonated. Developed by the Soviet Union, the bomb
was originally designed to have a yield of about 100 megatons of TNT;
however, the bomb yield was reduced by half in order to limit the
amount of nuclear fallout that would result.

War 3

world war 3 ww3

is the name given to a hypothetical world war,
initially supposed to be fought between superpowers with
of mass destruction
usually nuclear
. Superpower confrontation was deemed to be the major
threat in the latter half of the 20th century, where the Cold War saw
the capitalist United States face the communist USSR. This conflict was
presumed to result in the extermination
or technological impoverishment of humanity

War 4

world war 4 ww4

Like World
, World
War IV
is the name for a would-be global war, which either has
not yet occurred, or else has already started but whose commencement
would be established by historians in retrospect. The names WW III and
IV arise from the view that World War I and World War II set a
precedent which would follow a continued and escalating trend and that
designation as a world war is established by either the world leaders
performing the aggression or by the world leaders attempting to roll
back that aggression.

Atomic Age

The Atomic Age

Just before the sun rose over Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16th, 1945 – the world’s first atomic bomb, dubbed “trinity”by its builders, sat on its 100 foot tower awaiting the electronic signal that would mark the beginning of the nuclear age. When the device detonated, turning the dark night into the brightest day, the blast was squal to 20,000 tons of TNT. The mushroom cloud rose over eight miles into the air, forming a huge question mark.

The Nuclear question

That nuclear question mark is still with us. The atomic boom echoes down through the coridors of more than half a century. The question asked that day, the first question of the atomic age is still being pondered : “My God, what have we done?”. The fallout of that explosion continues to haunt us.

In no time at all, as soon as the devestating potential of nuclear energy was demonstrated in the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, people began to wonder. Was this what the biblical prophets, Nostradamus, and seers down through the ages had been talking about when they foretold a time they called ‘Armageddon’?

Since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has illustrated it’s perception of how dangerous the atomic threat is by placing a clock on the cover of the magazine showing just how much time the editors think we have before Armageddon. This is known as the doomsday clock. They base their opinion on how the nations of hte world are pursuing nuclear capabilities and on the tensions existing among the members of hte nuclear family. The time has varied from as little as two minutes to midnight in 1953, to as much as 17 minutes to midnight in 1991.

Pop culture has certainly picked up on the fear. An exhibition at the Browne Popular Cultural Library at Bowling State University displayed posters from no less than 56 Hollywood films in which an atomic Armageddon threat figured prominently in the story or plot.

Many images in the Book of Revelation and the writings of Nostradamus seem eerily similar to what happened at Alamogordo. It is relatively easy to jump to the conclusion that these writers, living centuries before anyone knew atomic energy existed, may have seen in their visions what hte human race has since experienced.

“Something like a hugh mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned to blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed”.

(Revelations 8:8,9)

“The sun was given power to scorch the people with fire. They were seared by the intense heat”.

(Revelations 16:8,9)

The unbeleives dead, captive, exiled with blood,
human bodies, water and red hail covering the earth.

(Erika Cheetham, The Final Prophecies of Nostradamus)

Nuclear Fears

Such is the specter of the atomic age in the minds of virtually everyone who has seen the pictures of the famous mushroom cloud that it is hard to envision an Armageddon that doesn’t involve nuclear holocaust. Perhaps the most feared of terroristic threats is that a small group might smuggle a nuclear device into a major city – or at least set off a “dirty bomb” – (a conventional explosive contaminated with radioactive material) – thereby rendering human occupation of the area impossible for any forseeable future. In 2003, President George W. Bush launched and invasion of Iraq based largely on the claim that Iraq was developing “weapons of mass destruction” – including nuclear ones.

It is safe to say that more money has been spent as a result of nuclear weapons, both in developing them and trying to defend against them, than for any other single reason in the history of the human race.

The atomic age is a fact of life for every person now living on the planet, and the potential for nuclear Armageddon remains on of the single biggest threats to life as we know it today.

More Than Two-Thirds of Patients on Anti-Depressants Not Depressed


A new study shows that more than two-thirds — some 69 percent – of patients using anti-depressants do not actually meet the criteria for depressive disorder.

The study, which appears in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, finds that many individuals who are prescribed and take antidepressant medications may not actually have a depressive disorder, and that such drugs are often used by patients who do not meet the diagnostic criteria of depression.

According to the research, among the users of antidepressant medications, 69 percent never met the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD), and 38 percent also never met those for obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, or generalized anxiety disorder – for which the antidepressant medications are sometimes prescribed.

Other factors, however, unrelated to depression, were found to be associated with the use of antidepressants.

“Caucasian ethnicity, recent or current physical problems (eg, loss of bladder control, hypertension, and back pain), and recent mental health facility visits were associated with antidepressant use in addition to mental disorders,” say the researchers.

As Breitbart News previously reported, psychiatrist Dr. Julie Holland penned an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this year in which she cited that at least one of every four women in America is now on psychiatric medication, as opposed to one of every seven men, a situation Holland described as “insane.”


Welcome to Armageddon Online – Disaster News, Future Scenarios, Preparedness and Survival