Nuclear weaponry

Atomic bomb launched in Hiroshima, Japan

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons

A weapon is an instrument used to attack or defend itself. Within the different types of weapons exist the nuclear weapons. A nuclear weapon is considered to be that weapon that uses nuclear energy.

If they distinguish two types of nuclear weapons depending on the function of nuclear energy:

  • Those who use nuclear energy directly to generate a big explosion, as would be the case with the atomic bomb.
  • Those who use nuclear energy as a source of energy for propulsion. For example nuclear submarine propulsion, aircraft carrier, etc.

Nuclear weapons are considered the most dangerous weapon designed so far in the world. Only one bomb can destroy entire cities and leave large amounts of radioactivity in the area for decades. This radioactivity would be devastating to the environment and future generations.

At the moment nuclear weapons have only been used twice in the war. It is the launching of two nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 during World War II.

According to United Nations studies it appears that there are still approximately 26,000 nuclear weapons in the world, and so far more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out.

Treaties relating to nuclear weapons

Since the end of World War II, a number of multilateral treaties have been created to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear testing, while promoting nuclear disarmament. They stand out among them:

    • Treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water, also known as the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
    • Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
    • Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was signed in 1996 but has not yet entered into force.

    Some bilateral and plurilateral treaties and agreements aim to reduce or eliminate certain categories of nuclear weapons, as well as to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery.

    Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

    President John F. Kennedy ratifies the treaty on October 7, 1963 in Washington DC The Treaty of partial prohibition of nuclear tests was signed on August 5, 1963, in Moscow, shortly after the crisis in Cuba (principle of détente). This treaty is a set of rules on the prohibition of the testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere and under water. Underground tests do not fall within this prohibition, provided that they do not discharge radioactive waste outside the territorial limits of the state conducting the tests.

    The United States, the USSR and the United Kingdom ratified it immediately. France and China were not added in the first place. India also signed it. Subsequently completed with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

    The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is an international treaty aimed at reducing the use of nuclear weapons in the world and the risks it entails. It was drafted and signed in 1968 and came into force on March 5, 1970, when it was ratified by 43 countries. Currently 189 states are part of the treaty. The entity responsible for ensuring that it is implemented is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    The nuclear non-proliferation treaty is based on three fundamental pillars:

    This treaty considers two different categories of State: those that are allowed to develop, trade and possess nuclear weapons and those that do not. Only five countries belong to the first group; The three depositaries, which have been since 1968 (the United States, the United Kingdom and the former Soviet Union, now Russia), and since 1992 also France and China. These countries are also the only permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. These privileges are justified by the fact that they were the only ones who had carried out nuclear bomb tests before 1967.

    Since its inception, only one country has withdrawn from this treaty, it was North Korea in 2003.

    Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

    The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an international treaty, first signed on 10 September 1996. This treaty prohibits the conduct of nuclear testing in and by the countries Signatories.

    Initially, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was signed by 71 states, including five of the eight nuclear-capable countries. Currently, the TPCEN has been signed by 178 countries out of a total of 195, and ratified by 144. On 16 January 2007, ratification of the treaty was completed by all European countries, with ratification by Moldova.

    Both India and Pakistan, both confirmed nuclear powers, have refused to sign the treaty. Neither has North Korea.


    Oficina de Asuntos de Desarme de las Naciones Unidas

    International campaign to abolish nuclear weapons

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    Published: April 29, 2015
    Last review: May 12, 2017