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Glossary of Terms

Aldermaston AWE Aldermaston is the headquarters of AWE's operations. It is a factory near Reading, England where the Trident warheads are built.

Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty The Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty - was signed by the US and Soviet Union in 1972. In it they agreed to restrict anti ballistic systems. It allowed the US and Soviet Union to set up one area each protected against ABM.

Anti ballistic systems Anti-ballistic systems (ABM) consist of rockets and radar sets, designed to shoot down missiles. In practice it has proved impossible to design an ABM system that works. It has now been admitted that the US Patriot missiles fired at Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War almost always missed. However, there has always been the fear that if one of the countries with nuclear weapons did have an effective ABM system, it might feel that it was safe to use its own weapons, knowing that it couldn't be hit in return. So any attempts to set up an ABM system have always been seen as hostile rather than simply defensive.

Atom bomb ('A' bomb) An extremely powerful bomb depending on rapid release of atomic energy. Works by fission of plutonium or uranium.
(see also Hydrogen bomb)

AWE The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire, England, designs, manufactures and assembles Trident warheads. It also provides support, and decommissions and disposes of the old warheads. It is made up of AWE Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield.

Burghfield AWE Burgfield is seven miles east of Aldermaston. It is responsible for the final assembly of warheads, their in-service maintenance and their eventual decommissioning.

Chernobyl The town in the Ukraine in which a nuclear reactor burst in 1986, releasing radioactive material which continues to poison large areas of Belarus (see Environmental Issues page).

CND Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (see History of CND page).

Cold War Period between 1945 and 1990. During this time the USA and the USSR confronted each other with arms.

Coulport A naval base on Loch Long, Firth of Clyde, Scotland, where nuclear bombs are stored and loaded into Trident missiles. (see also Faslane)

Deploy To spread out ready for use. To make a weapons system operational.

Deterrence The theory that war is deterred because each side knows that the other possesses large numbers of nuclear weapons and thus understands the dire consequences of initiating a nuclear exchange.

Deuterium Heavy hydrogen, the hydrogen isotope of atomic mass. It is used in nuclear bombs. (see also Tritium)

Disarmament The reduction, limitation or complete abandonment of a nation's armed forces and military equipment (nuclear disarmament - abandonment of nuclear weapons).

European Court The Court that decides on issues affecting individuals, groups, and states within the European Union.

Fall-out Radioactive dust from a nuclear explosion. This is caused by the vast quantity of dirt and debris that is gouged out of the ground when a bomb hits. It is sucked up into the fireball and later deposited as fall-out.

Faslane Naval Base on the Gareloch, Firth of Clyde where the Trident submarines are kept. (see also Coulport)

Fission The breaking up of a heavy atom into two or more lighter atoms of about equal mass, with vast release of energy. (See Atom bomb)

Fusion When two nuclei of a light element, such as the hydrogen isotope deuterium, fuse together to form a nucleus of a heavier atom, with a great release of energy. (see Hydrogen bomb)

General Assembly The gathering for all members of the United Nations.

Genocide Mass murder of a racial, national or religious group.

Half-life Amount of time it takes for something to become half as radioactive as it was to begin with (e.g. Iodine-131's half life is 8.05 days. Uranium-235's half life is 710 million years).

Hiroshima The Japanese city that was atom-bombed at 8.15am on 6th August 1945. About 60,000-70,000 people were killed by the Hiroshima bombing. The bomb was named 'Little Boy'. By the end of December 1945, the total number of people who had died in the blast and later from radiation and other after-effects had reached 140,000.(see also Nagasaki)

Hydrogen Bomb ('H' Bomb) A highly destructive bomb that works by the nuclear fusion of deuterium.
(See also Atom bomb)

International Court of Justice (World Court) Considers disputes between states. Has condemned nuclear weapons.

Kiloton A nuclear explosive force equal to 1,000 tons of conventional high explosives (e.g. TNT).

MAD Mutual Assured Destruction. Each side completely destroys the other in an exchange of nuclear weapons.

NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. An alliance which was formed to confront the USSR and continued after its demise. Nineteen countries are members including US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Greece. Plans are afoot to include countries bordering on Russia.

Nagasaki The Japanese city atom-bombed at 7.50am on 9th August 1945. About 40,000 people died in the initial blast from the bomb, which was called 'Fat Man'.(see also Hiroshima)

Non-Proliferation Treaty The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was opened for signatures in 1968 and entered into force in 1970. 188 states have joined the Treaty and declared their intention to "achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament".
The Treaty says that only those countries which already have nuclear weapons may have them (that is the US, Russia, the UK, France and China). (see also Proliferation)

Nuclear Bomb A bomb that explodes using nuclear fusion (hydrogen bombs) or fission (atom bombs).

Nuclear Convoy A military convoy of road vehicles carrying nuclear weapons, such as the one which travels from Burghfield to Coulport carrying Trident bombs.

Nuclear power Electricity generated from nuclear processes.

Nuclear waste The waste left when nuclear processes are completed. Some kinds of waste will remain radioactive for tens of thousands of years.

Nuclear reactor Part of a nuclear power station where nuclear energy is converted.

Nuclear testing The first nuclear test was carried out on 16 July 1945 when the United States exploded the first nuclear bomb in New Mexico. The following is an extract from the Greenpeace website.
"Nuclear weapon test explosions have been carried out in the atmosphere, underground, and underwater. They have occurred on top of towers, onboard barges, suspended from balloons, on the earth's surface, deep underwater, deep underground and in horizontal tunnels bored into the sides of mountains. Nuclear bombs also have been dropped by aircraft and fired by rockets up to 200 miles into the atmosphere.
Wherever nuclear weapons testing has occurred there have been environmental problems. Large areas of land are contaminated as a result of atmospheric tests and the long-term consequences of underground nuclear testing are unknown. Fallout from the peak years of atmospheric nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, contaminated food, milk and water around the globe."
(see also Test Ban Treaty)

Nucleus The central part of an atom.

Plutonium An artificially produced radioactive element. It is used in nuclear bombs.

Proliferation The spread of nuclear weapons to countries without them and their development within countries which have them. (see also Non-Proliferation Treaty)

Radiation Electromagnetic waves (gamma rays and X-rays) and particles (alpha particles, beta particles, neutrons) produced by nuclear fission and fusion processes.

Radioactivity Spontaneous decay or disintegration of unstable atomic nuclei accompanied by the emission of charged particles and gamma rays.

Reprocessing plant The building where the chemical procedure of separating plutonium or fissionable uranium from spent nuclear fuel is carried out.
Rosyth Graveyard of decommissioned submarines. Near Falkirk in Scotland.

SALT Strategic Arms Limitation Talks. Negotiations between the US and Russia which are leading to a reduction of nuclear weapons.

Sanction Action intended to persuade a country to do as other countries want.

Summit Meeting between the Great Powers.

Test Ban Treaty The Test Ban Treaty is an agreement to stop testing nuclear weapons.

Treaty Formal agreement between States.

Trident American/British missile system (see Trident section).

Tritium Isotope of hydrogen used in nuclear bombs. (see also Deuterium)

Unilateral Disarmament Disarmament undertaken by one country without guarantees that other countries will also disarm.

United Nations International organisation formed after World War II to preserve peace.

Uranium A metallic element used in nuclear bombs, with many radioactive and unstable istopes.

Enriched uranium is uranium that has an increased content of uranium 235.

Warhead The part of a missile containing the bomb.

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