A History of Military Nuclear Power
from Trident section
" In August 1945 at the end of World War II the United States of America dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These were the first nuclear weapons to be used. Their destructive power was very much greater than that of any weapon used before.
In the confrontion between Russia and the US which began after World War II, nuclear weapons were manufactured in large numbers.
In the 1970s the US deployed its system of submarine-launched nuclear missiles which it called Trident. "
In 1912 Albert Einstein proposed that mass and energy are equivalent: if a piece of matter could be converted to energy a predictable amount would be released. During World War II research was undertaken in the US to find a way to do this so that an atomic bomb could be made.
In 1945 atomic bombs were dropped on the towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. Their destructive power was equal to that of thousands of tons of high explosive. Both towns were destroyed.
It is frequently argued that it was these attacks which brought about the end of the war with Japan. Against this argument is the claim that the cities were bombed to demonstrate to the world, and in particular to the USSR, the military power of the US. One statement of this counter-claim is made in this essay by Brian Quail.
Shortly after the war Britain and Russia also made atomic bombs. In the 1950s all three countries developed the more powerful H-bomb, with the explosive power of millions of tons of chemical explosive.
Bombs were tested in the atmosphere with the release of radioactive
particles which will continue to cause cancer deaths for many years.
In 1963 a Test Ban Treaty brought these tests to an end.
During the military nuclear power era as well as aquiring great quantities
of atomic explosive the nuclear powers have equipped their forces with
all manner of nuclear weaponry. The US especially made nuclear weapons
that could be launched by individual soldiers, from artillery, aircraft,
surface vessels, submarines, and sent by missiles - some which kept close
to the ground (for example Cruise), and some which travelled into space
before returning to earth (for example Trident.
The chief nuclear weapons now are nuclear missiles launched from sites
in the ground and from submarines.
The period from World War II till the collapse of the Soviet Union - called the Cold War - has been seen to be dominated by the existence of nuclear weapons. The five permanent members of the Security Council of the United Nations are the nuclear powers US, Russia, China, France, and UK. The Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1969 prohibited other countries from joining the club. Israel, India, and Pakistan have not complied. Most countries are opposed to nuclear weapons and to their possession by the nuclear powers who justify holding on to them on the grounds that the other countries have them and because they might be required to control 'rogue' nations - for example Libya and Iraq.
Throughout this time many ordinary people have opposed nuclear weapons
and have formed groups to give strength to the opposition. These groups
have been supported by people of all races, creeds, and nations. Bonds
have been developed with those concerned with the environment. There
has been a growth in non-violent direct action (NVDA) where people
obstruct with their bodies the actions of the military.
Chemical and biological weapons are generally regarded as unlawful. Those opposed to nuclear weapons want them treated in the same way. In 1996 the International Court of Justice declared that nuclear weapons are in general illegal.
"...the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the
rules of international law..."
In 1961 US submarines carrying nuclear missiles (Polaris) were based
in Holy Loch on the Clyde where they remained till 1992. Britain had
its own Polaris submarines which began to be replaced by Trident submarines
in the same year. They continue to be based at Faslane on the Clyde.
Trident is now Britain's only nuclear weapon.
In 1998 the Scottish Courts began a consideration of the legality of nuclear weapons in connection with the trashing of a floating research laboratory in Loch Goil by three women. In 2001 the Scottish High Court said that contrary to the views of the women the government was justified in its nuclear activities.
Direct action has gained increasing support. The Scottish Parliament
has recognised a group of anti-Trident MSPs. The intention of George
W Bush to proceed with a National Missile Defence which might
require the use of facilities in Britain has embarassed the British
government. A fault in many of Britain's Trident support submarines
has raised environmental concerns.
Protect and Survive
Chronological Table of Nuclear Weapons
History of Nuclear Weapons Testing
The Nuclear Files
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