What Are the Consequences of a Nuclear Threat?

Radiation, fire, and heat can cause devastating damage to cells, structures, and electronics in the event of a nuclear explosion. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations that works to promote adherence to and implementation of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In the post-Cold War era, the United States and other nations face a new type of nuclear threat. Evidence of the foreseeable impacts of a nuclear detonation is an integral part of the risk assessment of nuclear weapons.

The size of the bomb and the distance from the explosion will determine the effects on a person. However, it is certain that a nuclear explosion would cause great destruction, death, and injury over a wide area. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimates that a significant amount of EMU, which means “the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded” is 25 kg or 55.1 pounds. A new study released today provides clear information on the global impact of nuclear war.

The lead author LSU Department of Oceanography & Associate Professor of Coastal Science Cheryl Harrison and her co-authors conducted multiple computer simulations to study the impacts of regional and larger-scale nuclear warfare on Earth's systems, given current nuclear warfare capabilities. Since 1991, several multilateral treaties have been established with the objective of preventing proliferation and nuclear testing, while promoting progress in nuclear disarmament. Evidence of the harm caused by the use and testing of nuclear weapons acquires renewed importance in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is increasing. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has brought the threat of nuclear war to the forefront.

With the recent threats of terrorism, many people have expressed concern about the likelihood and effects of a nuclear explosion. A bomb case would produce a very destructive nuclear explosion, but not as large as that of a nuclear weapon developed for strategic military purposes. At a meeting organized by ICAN, experts discussed the humanitarian and environmental consequences of using and testing nuclear weapons, as well as factors driving nuclear risk. Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power and the threat they pose to the environment and human survival.

Bradford Tutwiler
Bradford Tutwiler

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