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  Wikipedia: Weapons of mass destruction

Wikipedia: Weapons of mass destruction
Weapons of mass destruction
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are weapons designed to kill large numbers of people, usually civilians but also potentially military personnel. They are generally considered to be of limited military usefulness because their destructiveness is likely to trigger an extreme response. They are also known as weapons of indiscriminate destruction, weapons of mass disruption and weapons of catastrophic effect.

Though the phrase was coined in 1937 to describe aerial bombardment, the types of weapons today considered to be in this class are often referred to as NBC weapons or ABC weapons:

Semantic Disputes

The phrase weapons of mass destruction is the source of various semantic disputes. The phrase originated in 1937 to describe the use of strategic bombers by the German Luftwaffe during the Spanish Civil War. During the Cold War, WMD exclusively meant nuclear weapons. Indeed, modern nuclear weapons are vastly more destructive than either biological or chemical weapons. Chemical weapons expert Gert Harigel believes that, as a result, only nuclear weapons should be called weapons of mass destruction.

The modern use of WMD to refer to NBC weapons was coined by UN Resolution 687 in 1991. This resolution refers to the "threat that all weapons of mass destruction pose to peace and security", and mentions in particular nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, and the three relevant treaties:

United States law defines WMD as "to cause death or serious bodily injury to a significant number of people" using chemicals, a disease organism, radiation or radioactivity. However, the FBI also considers conventional weapons (ie, bombs) to become WMD: "A weapon crosses the WMD threshold when the consequences of its release overwhelm local responders".

In fact, so called "weapons of mass destruction" account for a small proportion of overall deaths due to weapons in general. Colombia's Vice President Gustavo Bell Lemus told the UN that deaths from bullet-firing weapons "dwarf that of all other weapons systems - and in most years greatly exceed the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki".

Responses to WMD

As mentioned above, weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons, are rarely used because their use is essentially an "invitation" for a WMD retaliation, which in turn could escalate into a war so destructive it could easily destroy huge segments of the world's population.

During the Cold War, this understanding became known as mutally assured destruction and was the largely the reason war never broke out between the WMD-armed United States and Soviet Union.

Generally, it can be said that WMD's are not very popular with much of the world. Their destructiveness is a source of unease for many, and there are always fears that they could be used by a crazy or unstable leader. There are strong movements to prevent further proliferation of WMDs, as well as to eliminate nations' current WMD hoards.

Weapons of mass destruction are used to justify the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes against "rogue states" thought to be in danger of possessing or developing them. At the same time, the U.S.A. is the country that possesses one of the greatest arsenal of WMD's on earth, and the only country that has ever used nuclear weapons on civilians in human history .

Countries that may possess WMD

In the year 2000 the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), issued a list of over 30 countries they considered "possessing, pursuing or capable of acquiring nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, and missile delivery systems". However it should be noted that this list omitted countries obviously capable of initialting a nuclear weapons programme should they desire (e.g. Germany and Canada). It should also be noted that being on this list did not indicate that any such programmes existed within these countries, or any political will to begin such programmes. In alphabetical order, the members of the list are:

The nation that probably holds the world's largest arsenal of WMD's is the Russia.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 
Modified by Geona