Talk:Nuclear weapon/Archive 3

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some notes

Just a note often nuclear material is also used in bunker busting bombs and anti-tank bombs. Mainly because of their haevy material is better in penetrating hard shells. But also they cause an area with nuclear radion.

Note 2 did anyone notice the reports on the bunker busters used by israel. It is believed that those where based om some unknown nuclear physics, some kind of secret. Just curiosity if these bunker buster/tank buster bombs are evolving in a certain way jet unknown to the public.

Depleted uranium munitions have nothing really to do with nuclear weapons except for the fact that depleted uranium is produced as a byproduct of uranium enrichment. No nuclear reactions take place. They are not even radioactive enough to be considered radiological weapons. If there are improvements in conventional bunker busting bombs it is likely because of improved materials or improved shaped charges of some sort, not anything much to do with "unknown nuclear physics." --Fastfission 16:18, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Ehrm, one question. Russia had always less warheads but more missiles than the US in the last time. I cannot find this anywhere. Instead the article euphemizes the figures in favor for the US. How comes? Neutrality? Humm ...

What are you talking about? The number of relative warheads and missiles varied over time. Military superiority is not formed by the maximum number of warheads. --Fastfission 16:34, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm concerned about the chart in the History section of the article (as shown here
U.S. and USSR/Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles, 1945-2006
) as I remember the relative proportions of warheads in the '80s meant that the US was more heavily armed due to extensive use of the MIRV multiple warhead system. It is true that "mutually assured destruction"-based deterrence deprives the warhead count of meaning in terms of destructive capacity. However, the warhead count is probably a political indicator worth knowing, and I think the chart in its present context may be misrepresenting the history of the nuclear arms race. Slowman1 (talk) 15:46, 21 December 2007 (UTC)
The chart shows warheads, not launch platforms, so a single missile with eight MIRVs counts for eight warheads on that chart, not one. TomTheHand (talk) 16:44, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Types of nuclear weapons

"Only six countries— United States, Russia, United Kingdom, People's Republic of China, France, and possibly India—are known to possess hydrogen bombs."

Could someone consider changing this? If India "possibly" possesses hydrogen bombs, it can't be "known" to possess hydrogen bombs. Goldbringer 18:55, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

  • OK, I tried to specify it a bit in a way which didn't drag in too much unnecessary detail. --Fastfission 16:16, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Whoah - why is it assume that India's detonation of a working hydrogen bomb wasn't quite up to scratch? I was under the impression that it was an agreed success (as verified by seismic data, etc...) --Nukemason 03:46, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Many Western observers thought it was unlikely that they detonated a working hydrogen bomb (multi-stage, radiation implosion, etc.). See Sublette's info on it for example. The Indian government of course claimed full success but that doesn't necessarily tell anything, esp. with hydrogen bombs (of which the definition is not necessarily fixed — some people think only multi-stage weapons are true hydrogen bombs, some are content with any substantial yield from fusion in a non-boosting way). --Fastfission 03:04, 23 March 2007 (UTC)


Is the legality section something which is necessary for this summary-style article, or could it just be a link in the history section? Personally I don't think it adds much, but that might be because I have very little belief that their "legal" status in the eyes of the UN really means anything. In any case if we are going to have a "legality" section, wouldn't it make more sense to have it discuss things like the IAEA and the NPT, which have more day-to-day importance (if not effect) than a toothless resolution by a UN court? I just don't see that particular legal opinion as being terribly important — it has never played a role in the strategy of any nuclear or wannabe-nuclear country as far as I can tell, whereas things like the NPT and the LTBT and the CTBT have. --Fastfission 16:16, 31 December 2006 (UTC)

Should this article have a legality section?

There's been a little bit of kerfuffle about a template I created, Template:Nuclear Legality. I originally intended to have a bit of information on every nuclear weapon article to do with that particular weapon's legality, and a load of over-arching information at Nuclear weapon. But since there seems to be quite a bit of disagreement I would now like to start with the Legality section of Nuclear weapon and work out from there. There are a few ideas as to what this section should contain, which can be dealt with in due course; for the moment, if you could take the time to add your name and any comments below I'd greatly appreciate it:

Proposal: the article "Nuclear weapon" should contain a section entitled Legality, under which the general legality of nuclear weapons under national and international law is discussed Note: this section is now titled "Governance". Whatever the title of the section is, should it stand in the article? 2nd note: we're now also discussing what the title of the section (and any subsections) should be. Governance? Legality? Governance and control? Legality and control?


  • Jim (Talk) 19:36, 31 December 2006 (UTC). First thoughts are that it should contain information about the following:
  • I don't see why a poll is necessary, just start writing and if it turns out that this article isn't a good fit for that section it can be split out and put somewhere else. But check the Nuclear weapon#Governance section to make sure you aren't adding redundancies first, you may want to make legality a subsection of that section. Bryan 20:13, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
    • I've already tried that and it didn't work out too well: see Talk:Trident missile, User Talk:James Kemp and various other talk pages linked from there. Plus I'm hoping this poll will encourage some other editors to help write the Legality section. --Jim (Talk) 21:02, 31 December 2006 (UTC)
  • Mark83 12:56, 1 January 2007 (UTC) - As I've discussed with Jim, I'm not sure about a legality section on every nuclear weapon sub-article. However not discussing legality here seems like a glaring omission to me.
  • I don't know why we are even having this debate. Not having a section on legality is like not having any mention of the law on cannabis (drug). A glaring omission as Mark says. --Guinnog 20:42, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
    • I don't think that's an accurate analogy; legality matters when you talk about cannabis, but it doesn't when you're talking about nuclear weapons. I think treaties are important topics, because they actually matter, but a decision by the ICJ or by a Scottish court really doesn't. TomTheHand 20:50, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
      • We can agree to differ if you want, but I would say that legality and ethics are pretty important in any encyclopedia article dealing with weapons of mass destruction. --Guinnog 21:00, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
      • Tom: as I have said elsewhere, the decision by the ICJ does matter. Just because it is not binding, does not mean it is meaningless. 95% of ICJ AO's are accepted, but this one wasn't. Surely that makes it notable. In fact, I'm not even sure what you mean by saying certain laws matter when others don't; I can only deduce from your analogy that because possesion of cannabis can cause someone to end up in court, it "matters"? I don't mean to be facetious, but surely law only matters when it is disobeyed? --Jim (Talk) 21:08, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
        • What I mean is that cannabis usage is actually affected by the laws of the nations involved, so it's an important topic. The policies of nuclear nations have not been affected at all by the ICJ's decision, so it's not relevant. Before saying much else, I'm going to wait for you to read my other comments on this talk page, where I discuss your misconception of what the ICJ said. TomTheHand 21:13, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
          • Allow me to reiterate: the ICJ Opinion is notable precisely because it has not affected the nuclear policies of NWSs. Again, 95% of ICJ Opinions are accepted and treated as binding by states. --Jim (Talk) 21:32, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
            • Ok, let me reiterate the point I've made elsewhere: the ICJ Opinion states that the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons when a state's existence is not at stake would be a war crime. It does not state that possession of nuclear weapons is a war crime. All nations have obeyed the ICJ AO, but they would have done so anyway, so the decision is irrelevant: it was not the ICJ AO that has prevented nuclear annihilation over the past ten years. If a nation were in a situation where its best course of action is to use nuclear weapons, it is in a situation far too dire to worry about an international court's non-binding opinion.TomTheHand 21:38, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
  • We seem to be foreclosing each other's arguments, but in separate threads! See below for the fine line between threat and posession. Also, the ICJ Opinion stated (unanimously, I believe) that states had an obligation to disarm in good faith. Is this a clearer example of the various NWSs flouting of international law? Rest assured that I am not going to use the word "flout" in the article, but I do believe that the fact that states have not worked with the ICJ on this is what makes the ICJ Opinion notable in this article. I also think it's best to avoid speculative arguments concerning who has prevented nuclear war, and about hypothetical situations when a nuclear strike might take place. --Jim (Talk) 21:57, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree. This was why I chose the cannabis comparison. The law against cannabis is also widely flouted, yet still deserves a place in our article. Without getting into a massive sermon about morality, I think it is very reasonable to note these opinions and judgements about the legality of these weapons. --Guinnog 21:41, 2 January 2007 (UTC)


  • I think something on Governance and Control would be fine, which would refer to things more important (historically and in practical terms) than whether local courts in Scotland (??) think nuclear weapons are "legal" under international law. Treaties, agreements, anti-proliferation control, etc. are all good game for that. It should not become a forum for every time a local government has declared they don't want nuclear weapons either to be ignored or overturned by the executive government — it was a quite common occurrence in the 1980s and if we start going down that path we will have a long list of self-righteous stands which had no practical effect. I don't think such a thing makes for a useful, "top-level" understanding of what nuclear weapons are; a discussion of how they have been tried to be controlled politically, though, would be quite useful and interesting. In my opinion. --Fastfission 16:19, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
    • A small point on the relationship between the ICJ AO and Scots Law: I included it because it is the first example (that I know of) of a national court trying to implement international law as per nuclear weapons. What do you think about having something on how the ICJ AO has been applied at national level? I guess this could be included in the ICJ AO's main article and then summarised here? --Jim (Talk) 16:22, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
      • I don't see it is important enough to warrant mention in a top-level article. I know almost nothing about Scottish law but Sheriff Court seemed fairly unimpressive to me on the first read of it, and by "unimpressive" I mean, "not really warranting mention in this particular article, since it isn't a legal body that commands much attention in the world at large." I could see how it would be interesting from the point of view of the British Trident situation but even then it seems pretty minor since it didn't actually have any real effect. There were lots of attempts during the 1980s and 1990s in the USA for various groups to say that the USA was acting out of compliance with the NPT or to pass local anti-nuclear laws, some of which won in very low-level courts (if I recall) but none of which had any major effects or lasting successes; I'm wary about including such information because I don't think it informs one much about the current state of nuclear weapons in the world. I've never seen the Scots law bit cited anywhere in discussing nuclear weapons control, is what I am saying in the end, and thus would be surprised to see it in an encyclopedia article about nuclear weapons. 90% of the references to it on the internet seem to be only Greenpeace-like sites, which I'm not discounting out of hand but they are not what I take as reliable information on nuclear diplomacy or legality (just because they are totally marginalized politically). --Fastfission 18:47, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
        • What I was trying to do was (a) test the water (I've learnt over the last few days that doing this in the abstract by using Talk Pages isn't too effective; the best thing seems to be to make changes and get a response that way); and (b) put it down as the start of a section on how internal law has been implemented (or not) at national level. I take your point regarding efforts to show that the USA/UK are acting outside various laws, and how these attempts rarely result (directly) in anything positive for the peace movement(s); but at the same time, "the law is the law". The "current state of nuclear weapons in the world" is that they are more or less illegal (there is one slight loophole), but national governments are ignoring the law. Obviously this is extremely POV, but I do think that the information should be presented in an encyclopedia article in a NPOV way so that people can make up their own minds. Also, see my comments further down the page. --Jim (Talk) 00:03, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
          • "The law is the law" — it's not that simple, as any reading in how international law actually works would be clear. This is not a place to hash out such things, and you are deliberately or accidentally misrepresenting things in a very simplistic way, I fear because you have spent more time reading the anti-nuke sites than the serious policy. (Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of nukes. But I'm a scholar before I'm an activist.) Take a look at the ICJ page — there are tremendously complicated issues about jurisdiction, and in the end you have to really simplify a lot of national and international legal theory in order to say that "the law is the law". I'm fine with mentioning the decision and linking to a larger article on it, but I don't want to misrepresent its importance. For me importance comes from action — does it do anything — not words, at least for the purpose of Wikipedia articles. NPT, IAEA, PTBT, START I, etc., all did something, for better or worse, and should get the lions-share of attention in any section about the control of nuclear weapons. If tomorrow the ICJ ruling actually results in something (other than an overturned case in Scotland), then we can certainly give it more space! --Fastfission 16:25, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
            • I take your point - that the law is a massively complicated beast - which is one reason why I think it's best to concentrate efforts on the ICJ AO article - thanks for your vote on WP:ACID, btw. Once that article is up to scratch (including how the ICJ AO has been dealt with by national courts) I guess it would be useful to include more information (specifically, how national courts have dealt with ICJ AO) from it. I didn't know such a thing as a "summary style" article existed but now I do I am happier for the Governance section not be split into "Treaties" and "Law". I don't entirely take your point re: the ICJ AO "doing something" being grounds for its notability. You are right in implying that the ICJ lack any way of enforcing their decisions, but the fact remains that 95% of decisions are accepted and complied with by the international community. So the question arises: why are national courts not complying with international law in this case? And why are governments refusing to explain their reasons for not complying with international law? This, it seems to me, is the most interesting aspect here and certainly qualifies some sort of mention in the article, as long as there's something to back it up; i.e., a mention in the ICJ AO article about how the NWSs, at least, have reacted to the ICJ AO. That's what I'm working on at the moment.
Regarding my own background, I guess it should be pretty clear by now that I am "anti-nuke" (although I am not affiliated with any specific organisation or movement); however, I don't see why the fact that I have been reading certain sources from certain perspectives means that my point is suddenly less valid (I accept some other of your criticisms, as noted above, just not this one). I have read anti-nuclear websites, and anti-nuclear books, and court proceedings, and government policy documents, and many other sources, and I think it's a little hard and fast to delineate strongly between "serious policy" and everything else. When the Strategic Defence Review mentions the ICJ AO only twice, and when the government repeatedly refuse to back up their claims that "they believe their nuclear weapons to be legal" whether in court (either a Sherrif Court or the Scottish High Court) or in Parliament, or in reponse to requests from tax-paying voters, how can this "policy" (if this is what you mean by the word) be considered "serious"? --Jim (Talk) 20:26, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
Jim, the ICJ did not rule that nuclear weapons are illegal. It ruled that using them, or threatening to use them, would be. Nations that possess nuclear weapons are not in violation of international law. TomTheHand 20:54, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm fully aware of that. But there is a very narrow margin between ownership and "threat or use" - and the UK government have arguably been in breach on the count of "threat". One official government line is that they (the government) can only decide on the legality of ownership once the weapons have been launched. I wonder what bunker they'll make that decision in? --Jim (Talk) 21:08, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose - While legality may deserve a mention, there is no need for a separate section. International Court opinion is already mentioned under the Governance section. The test-ban treaties are considerably more significant than the advisory opinion, and do not currently have a section devoted soley to them. To create a separate section on the opinion would create a false impression of the opinion's historical and practical importance. From the Wikipedia article, it is not obvious what significance the opinion does have. In saying this, I am echoing the comments by User:Fastfission on User talk:James Kemp. As far as I can see, Fastfission's edits to the governance section are sufficient. A section would be unnecessary and disproportionate. - Crosbiesmith 16:08, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
    • My personal opinion is that the UK and US (two stable democracies) should maintain their nuclear deterrents. However I think a discussion of the legality or otherwise of nuclear weapons is justified. And if it is not justified here where exactly on Wikipedia is it justified?? And what exactly does "governance" mean to the average reader?? Governance (according to the OED) means to govern or to exercise sway or control. The executives of Enron governed and exercised sway and control, however who would agree that what they did was legal! Mark83 22:57, 1 January 2007 (UTC)
      • Yes, "governance" is too weak a word IMO. "Legality" is clearly too strong from other peoples' points of view. I was very happy with the compromise of "governance" as the main header, with a "law" subsection, but this got reverted. I'm going to stick it back in ; if anyone wants to re-revert (and I HATE edit wars) then please say something here to back up what you do. As per my overarching project to have legality discussed on each and every nuclear weapon article (the fundamental argument being that they are all pretty much illegal, and that this is certainly "notable"; the only problem being that the specific legal case needs to be researched for each weapon's article) , I've decided to start by sorting out the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons as per a suggestion from User:Crosbiesmith. I've put it up for WP:ACID and have requested a rating somewhere or other; so if you would like to vote for the article or (even better) can provide a rating, I'd greatly appreciate it. If you just want to read the article, it should now be a much clearer explanation of what actually went on in the Hague (although I still need to add the actual points of international law that are being broken by nuclear weapons) --Jim (Talk) 00:03, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
        • "Governance" is a nice generic term for organized control. I didn't want to just use "control" because I felt it implied that they were controlled, which is really a pretty subjective judgment (some are, some aren't). I like "governance" as a good catch-all term for the fact that there are a variety of legal/political/national/diplomatic/etc. things at work here, but if you have something that works better by all means change it. It is less specific that "legality" which is itself a rather misleading term ("legality under international law" is too much of a mouthful; international law is not the only "law"). The fact is that the UN's court rulings on the weapons have had no effect on their history, their use, their practice. It is entirely misleading to imply otherwise. There is no need for a separate subsection on it; there is no reason that the international court's views on these things are so different from the general topic of "governance and control" that they need to be bracketed out in any particular way. We should try to keep it simple here — this is a Summary Style article. --Fastfission 16:25, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
          • See above for other points; but surely the fact that the ICJ's AO didn't have any effect makes it especially notable, since 95% of ICJ AOs are complied with? The ICJ's opinions on governance and control are different, in that they are law enforced on states rather than treaties designed by states, who will always partly consider their own interests. If national governments want to flout international law (if they had presented arguments against the ICJ AO I wouldn't be so concerned, but they haven't done this) then that's the way it is; but WP should report this. --Jim (Talk) 20:26, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
  • Oppose. I think it's very important that arms control treaties receive coverage, but the legality issue just doesn't matter very much. The ICJ decision is not just toothless, it's obvious: using nuclear weapons when the existence of your state isn't at stake is wrong. It does not say that possessing nuclear weapons is illegal, and above attempts to characterize nuclear powers as "flouting international law" are both false and POV-pushing. I could see mentioning it on the nuclear bunker buster article, because it's my understanding that the RNEP was under development with the intent to use it against non-nuclear powers. However, it's not important enough to be placed on the main article. TomTheHand 21:10, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
    • It is the threat, as well as the use, of nuclear weapons when the existence of a state is not at stake, that is unlawful according to the ICJ Opinion. Various dissenting opinions at the ICJ stated that even the caveat of "the threatened existence of a state" would legalise the use of nuclear weapons. Subsequent legal debate has discussed whether it is possible to possess a nuclear deterrent without actually "threatening" someone with it; it turns out that it's probably not possible. As for the "obvious" nature of the ICJ decision, that seems a rather strange term to use: obvious to whom? It's "obvious" to me that any use of nuclear weapons is against international law, but it's clearly not obvious to the NWSs. You are right that the stuff about "flouting international law" is POV - that's why I said it here, and not in the article itself. But it seems "obvious" to me - my POV of the ICJ opinion is that national governments are flouting it: one definition of flout is "to defy (an order, convention, etc) openly; to disrespect (authority, etc)". The convention, as decided by the ICJ, was that no-one threatens anyone with nuclear weapons; yet the NWSs continue to do this. --Jim (Talk) 21:40, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
      • The ICJ did not rule that the possession of nuclear weapons is a threat and therefore a war crime. If the ICJ did rule that possession is a crime, I would better understand your point of view, but now you're really stretching: what local courts feel international law should be is relevant to this article? I don't think so. TomTheHand 21:51, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
        • Tom: law is a matter of interpretation, and some have interpreted the ICJ Opinion as illegalising the possession of nuclear weapons because possession (or, to be more precise, possession and deployment) and threat are, in this instance, equatable. The ICJ were not asked to rule on possession, so they weren't able to, so we're left to the subsequent interpretation when we make up our minds. It's not just local courts that are providing (or, in some cases, withholding) this interpretation; it's high courts, governments, lawyers, academics, etc etc. It is important to include in this article how the NWSs (through their courts) have responded to the ICJ decision. As far as I know most of them have refused to comment when pushed. That's notable. --Jim (Talk) 22:05, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
          • That isn't what our article says. The article says that the ICJ did look at the issue of possession and whether or not it would be illegal and did not reach a decision. Is the article wrong? High courts, governments, lawyers, and academics may think that having nuclear weapons is illegal, but the ICJ did not decide that it was, and it wasn't because they didn't. I see above that you're still looking for some way, any way, that nuclear powers can be said to be flouting international law. However, the AO does not say "everyone is obligated to disarm." It says "everyone is obligated to talk about disarming and try to reach an agreement about it." You can't just say "Wow! It's been ten whole years, and states still have nuclear weapons, so they're flouting international law!" It's a bit more complicated than that. TomTheHand 22:15, 2 January 2007 (UTC)
  • I'm not working from the article, I'm working from the Opinion, and I'm not entirely sure where the section of the article you are referring to is taken from - according to the article's talk page, it started as notes from a university class on international law. As far as I know, only paragraphs 21 and 48, and maybe 61, deal with the possession question. I think that the article section is making reference to part of paragraph 48: "Some States put forward the argument that possession of nuclear weapons is itself an unlawful threat to use force. Possession of nuclear weapons may indeed justify an inference of preparedness to use them. In order to be effective, the policy of deterrence, by which those States possessing or under the umbrella of nuclear weapons seek to discourage military aggression by demonstrating that it will serve no purpose, necessitates that the intention to use nuclear weapons be credible. Whether this is a "threat" contrary to Article 2, paragraph 4, depends upon whether the particular use of force envisaged would be directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of a State, or against the Purposes of the United Nations or whether, in the event that it were intended as a means of defence, it would necessarily violate the principles of necessity and proportionality. In any of these circumstances the use of force, and the threat to use it, would be unlawful under the law of the Charter." My reading of this (and IANAL) is that it comes very close to the sixth vote the court took; i.e., the "big question". Although the court was not able to reach opinio juris it still left the question framed in such a way that further argument has been able to show that its findings can be used to show that possession is illegal. The ICJ Opinion is a long, drawn-out process and the court can only hand down its Opinion on the questions that have been asked: i.e., it couldn't vote on possession, so it didn't; and it wasn't just a matter of a split vote. As for your problem with my statement about a lack of "good-faith disarmament", I believe that I'm right in saying that states haven't really gone about this in the last ten years. Of course the continuing presence of nuclear weapons in the world doesn't directly demonstrate that the NWSs are not undertaking disarmament, but the upgrading of the Trident missile program suggests the UK and US governments will have nuclear weapons until at least 2050. The justification for this, in the UK, is the nuclear weapons programs of Iran and North Korea, so they could hardly be said to be acting in good faith. This is all said a lot better in other places, with direct reference to the ICJ, but I hope you get my point. --Jim (Talk) 01:38, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Maybe this link should be added?

Please add the link to the Ido wiki

io:atom-bombo thank you io:user:Joao Xavier —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:48, 12 February 2007 (UTC).

Three Non-Nuclear Principles

I have inserted Japan's Three Non-Nuclear Principles into the See Also section. I certainly understand that we cannot and should not represent every country's individual laws or statements regarding their stance on nuclear weapons - that would drive the balance of this article completely out of whack. Nevertheless, I think the Non-Nuclear Principles are rather important, as Japan is the only country to have ever been attacked with nuclear weapons, and possibly the country most adamantly against their manufacture and use in the world. If one of the editors who has been working on this article would figure out a way to effect its insertion into the main prose portion of the article, I think it would be a good addition. Thank you. LordAmeth 17:32, 9 April 2007 (UTC)


What does thermonuclear mean? I know thermo just means heat, so that dosn't really make any sense, heat nuclear. I also saw thermonuclear redirects to nuclear fusion. 21:07, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

A thermonuclear reaction is one involving nuclear fusion as opposed to fission. TomTheHand 21:36, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

But that dosn't really make any sense. Has it just become that thermonuclear refers to fusion, but really the definition of the words dosn't mean anything about it? 01:10, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Well, the fusion reactions described as "thermonuclear" only occur at very high temperatures. The term was first coined to describe the nuclear reactions of the sun. In thermonuclear bombs, the hydrogen must be compressed to incredibly high temperatures and pressures before you'll end up with fusion. You get greater efficiency from fission weapons by compressing the fissionable material, but they'll occur if you just gently place two subcritical masses together which, together, create a critical mass. That's a stark contrast to the amount of temperature, pressure, and effort it takes to create thermonuclear reactions. Does that help? TomTheHand 02:32, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Yeah, thanks man. 20:58, 17 May 2007 (UTC)


The page said "The use of these weapons, which resulted in the immediate deaths of around 100,000 to 200,000 people...". But figures at articles Hiroshima, Nagasaki, harry S. Truman, and Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all of which have sources, all agree that 70-80,000 people were killed immediately at Hiroshima and 40-50,000 were killed immediately at Nagasaki. I have corrected the article to say "the immediate deaths of around 120,000 people". -- Dominus 20:33, 4 June 2007 (UTC)


"Iran currently stands accused by the United Nations of attempting to develop nuclear capabilities, though its government claims that its acknowledged nuclear activities, such as uranium enrichment, are for peaceful purposes."

Can someone either cite this or remove it? The Iran_and_weapons_of_mass_destruction#Nuclear_weapons says nothing about the United Nations accusing Iran, just that the security council asked them to stop current enrichment activities. The UN as a whole appears to support Iran's right to nuclear technology. 13:36, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

The sentence cited is weak in several ways. Iran was not "accused by the United Nations of attempting to develop nuclear capabilities." Rather, it was found by the IAEA to have violated its NPT safeguards agreement, tantamount to a violation of the NPT itself, over an extended period (18 years) by secretly pursuing enrichment and reprocessing technologies, the very capabilities that are most critical to the production of nuclear weapons. So Iran was not "accused," but was essentially found guilty; it was not by the UN but the IAEA; and it was not for "attempting to develop nuclear capabilities" - a vague charge that would be difficult to define much less prove - but rather of failing to declare the most sensitive nuclear activities, as it was required to do under the NPT.
In a sense the international community recognizes Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities, but Iran's safeguards violations while pursuing the most sensitive elements of the nuclear fuel cycle raised questions about the peaceful nature of its program. As a result, the UN Security Council has decided that Iran must, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, suspend those activities. The Council did not merely "ask" Iran to do this; under its auuthority to maintain international peace and security the Council can demand action, and that is what it did in this case. By defying the Security Council, Iran has compounded its violation of the NPT with a violation of the UN Charter. NPguy 02:41, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

GA Failed

Given the scope and breadth of this topic, what I expected from this article was essentially a series of good summaries of large, important facets of nuclear weapons with "main article" fork tags and with smaller facets or aspects fleshed within the article itself. Before I go into why I failed this article, let me state that I have read the talk page (the archive too) and seen the arguments made by the contributors to support the modifications made unto this article. I will address those arguments. The failure reasons, ordered by section of the WP:WIAGA, are:

1. Well-written? (a)Prose and grammar:

  • Mostly yes. Proofread the lead and last paragraph of Weapons delivery

(b)Complies with Wikipedia:Manual of Style: Several WP:LEAD issues:

  • First sentence: "As a result, even a nuclear weapon with a small yield is significantly more powerful than the largest conventional explosives, and a single weapon is capable of destroying an entire city." - The reader may not know that the yield of the smallest nuke produced wildly exceeds a MOAB, so this sentence is not useful. Say something about how nuclear explosions are far more efficient at coverting mass to energy and are thus much more powerful than conventional. Clarifying this point will also add context - which this lead woefully lacks.
  • Why mention peaceful purposes when they are not discussed anywhere further on and why link to Nuclear explosive which contains redundant material with respect to Peaceful nuclear explosions?
Peaceful purposes aren't mentioned except that this is what Iran claims its enrichment is related to. And that doesn't have anything to do with PNE's. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • Why is over three quarters of the lead filled with detailed information about states that secretly possess(ed) nuclear weapons and the WW2 bombings? The lead is supposed is to give relative emphasis - surely, by far, the most important facets of nuclear weapons has been their tremendous destructive (and constructive, see Peaceful nuclear explosions) potential, role in the Cold War, and as a source of continuous global consternation via proliferation, state-less nukes, and so on.
(I find it a little telling that you think PNE's are worth bringing up in the lead despite the fact that they never really added up to anything all that useful.) The lead is a quick history lesson; I'm not sure why it should be filled with much more than what one might need as an inroduction to a big topic. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • The lead should be capable of standing alone as a concise overview of the topic - with all of these blatant ("for more information" and "see this for more") forks and not so blatant (the nuclear explosives and non-military uses links) forks, the lead fails to accomplish this.
Well, in all of the "blatant" cases that is because they are highly controversial and we don't want to pretend that one sentence the end of the story. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

2. Factually accurate and verifiable:

(a) Yes

(b) No

  • Lead contains multiple uncited statements that do not appear cited later on in the article. Nuclear strategy summary is wholy uncited. Non-trivial statements should still be cited, even if the section forks to a main article. Governance section, which does not fork to a main article, cites only once!
Well, the governance section is just a list of treaties and their dates. Each treaty can be clicked on to verify that information; I think it's a little redundant to then cite each treaty once again, personally. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)


3. Broad coverage: (a) Definitely no

  • What was immediately obvious upon loading the page was the lack of discussion of: Effects of Detonation, Nukes in Popular Culture, Peaceful Uses, Owners (known and suspected) & Stockpile Stewardship, and Construction & Manufacturing. Each of these sections needs either reasonable coverage or a summary leading the reader to a main article. I do not see putting obscure links (like the popular culture one) to the main articles in unrelated sections as a solution to the coverage issue.
I agree except that I don't think "peaceful uses" needs a whole section (could be part of effects; again, the PNEs are not historically that important IMO, since almost nobody actually used them for anything peaceful). I don't know if a stockpile stewardship section is needed; I think if there was a section on testing added it could have a little note that once nations stop testing it makes reliability/maintenance of warheads more complicated. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)
  • The argument(s) in the talk pages that the article is too long or will become too long with this detail or summaries thrown in are bunk. Wikipedia:Article size does not set absolute recommendations on article size - for an article of tremendous scope and breadth like this one, 50KB of prose is easily justifiable. Moreover, while the article shows as 37KB, if you count the non-prose after the Media section and subtract, the article is really only 27KB (check it!).
  • Another argument (related to the decision to remove summary sections) was that having an Effects summary section created the temptation in not so clever editors to add redundant detail. Removing the summary entirely and leaving the article incomplete is a horrible solution to this problem! One semi-protects (i.e. bothers admins incessantly about it) the page and then simply reverts bad edits! It's really easy! Then, maybe, leave mocking comments on the offender's talk page.
The question is always what details to include. As it is the sub-pages are basically nothing but details, and detailed pages on this topic draw in people who want to add more details. So I would avoid too many details, personally. But more summaries, more sections — sure. -- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

(b) Yes

4. Neutral:

  • Not entirely. The lead places undue emphasis on the destrucion wrought by the WW2 bombings and secret ownership. The governance section cites only prohibitions giving the impression of a general global consensus that nuclear weapons should not be detonated. It does not mention how these treaties crimp peaceful technologies like: Nuclear pulse propulsion , PACER, nuclear pumped X-ray lasers, and the stuff in Peaceful nuclear explosions.
I don't think there is "undue emphasis" on the destruction; it would be biased if that wasn't acknowledged right from the beginning. And again, I find your desire to include every long-shot and ineffectual PNE pipe-dream to be pretty biased in its own accord; these are minor aspects of nuclear weapons in comparison with their importance as weapons. This is a page about nuclear weapons, not a euphamistic page about nuclear devices. Since absolutely none of those ever became very fateful or important technologies in comparison with nukes as bombs and missiles I think it would be "undue emphasis" to spend too much time talking about them. (Additionally, the nuclear pumped X-ray laser was not exactly "peaceful", but that's a content quibble)-- 15:35, 28 July 2007 (UTC)

5. Stable: Yes

6. Images ish: Sure

That about sums it up for now. I'd be glad to discuss these issues and how they could be amended, as I'd really like this article to become a nice, good introduction and launching pad to other topics in nuclear weapons. --Meowist 09:37, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

Why United States didn't test their atomic weapons in Africa in the 1950s and early 1960s?

United States was powerful and they could test their bombs anywhere they wanted in the West in the early years. Why did United States test their atomic weapons on their land and in the Pacific Ocean, and not in Africa? 22:52, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

The United States could only test bombs in uninhabited U.S. territory. Since there's none of that in Africa, they didn't test them there. I'm not sure where you got the impression that the U.S. could test bombs anywhere they wanted. TomTheHand 03:04, 25 July 2007 (UTC)

And why would they have wanted to anyway? Testing far from any possible enemy observer was and is important, as well as the potential for death/injury to innocents. I don't get what this question is driving at. Tsmith7057 10/27/07

"Generations" of weapons

When Ahmadinejad referred to the US developing "the fifth generation of atomic bombs", what is he referring to? Nuclear bunker busters? Are the "generation" classifications generally agreed upon? — Omegatron 03:01, 2 October 2007 (UTC)

AFAIK there is no standard "generation" classification scheme. This paper uses first generation as pure fission weapons, second as boosted fission and staged thermonuclear designs, and third as things like neutron bombs, with fourth being various types of nuclear weapons that get around the CBTB—subcritical weapons, pure-fusion weapons, and so forth. Maybe that is what he meants. Or maybe he just means bunker busters or the RWRP. Or maybe something totally different. -- 20:44, 25 October 2007 (UTC)


I have 2 questions actually. The first: How come that the camera's filming a nuclear bomb does not cease to function in a matter of seconds, since EMP travels with the speeds of light? Is it because those early (italic because I don't know in what period they filmed the most of the bombs) bombs did not produce an EMP? Or were there special designed cameras? If so, does anyone know what exactly was replaced/different?

Now my second question. It is about the symbols in this picture:

What resembles nuclear, what resembles biological, what resembles chemical (and what resembles radiological)?

Thanks Mallerd 18:15, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

Regarding your first question, the electromagnetic pulse is an effect of nuclear explosion in space. Gamma ray and X-ray photons travel freely from the explosion and when they hit the top of the atmosphere. This leads to a rapid separation of positive and negative charges, which causes a separaqtion of positive and negative charges, setting up a potential that discharges rapidly in an electromagnetic pulse. This does not happen for atmospheric or underground tests because the photons are absorbed rapidly.

Not sure what you're after in the second question, but the three symbols represent nuclear/radiation, biological and toxic hazaards, respectively. NPguy 01:36, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

Ok, I guess I was misled by a program, thanks. And yes that was what I meant with the symbols, thanks again :D Mallerd 07:32, 5 November 2007 (UTC)

People who can authorise a nuclear strike in the UK

A report by Newsnight recently brought to light the fact that the PM, and indeed the government of the UK, are not the only ones who can authorise use of the UK's nuclear weapons:


Unfortunately, that report is a bit thin, but the abridged report has a little more info.

Essentially, the commander of any submarine carrying nuclear weapons can launch them. There are no codes to prevent this. In the report that was shown on 15/11/07, a statement from the MOD stated that this was intentional. In the event that the government of the UK was destroyed or otherwise unable to authorise the use of nuclear weapons, submarine commanders could act independently making any pre-emptive strike against the UK, no matter how effective, unable to prevent retaliation.

I edited the relevant section to reflect this. Mojo-chan (talk) 22:18, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Use of weapons controversial ??

I ask that the sentence 'the use of these weapons is controversial' is to be deleted. There is no controversy - an overwhelming majority of the world population is against of the use of nuclear weapons. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:46, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

The sentence in question is about the use of nuclear weapons against Japan at the end of World War II. There is significant controversy over whether that use was justified. Some claim that it ended the war earliler than it would have ended otherwise, saving the lives of many Americans and Japanese. Others claim that the war would have ended soon anyway, once Russia entered the war. On that basis, I believe the sentence should stayl. NPguy (talk) 03:26, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Planned usage in both Europe and Japan, 1944

I found a link to Studs Terkel's interview with the pilot of the Enola Gay (named for his mother) who first learned of the Manhattan project in 1944. The pilot was selected upon General Uzal Ent's recommendation to General Hap Arnold. According to the interview, two bombs were planned, to be dropped simultaneously in both Europe and Japan. Thus the plans must have changed in 1945. Robert Oppenheimer instructed this pilot to turn 159 degrees away from the bomb's trajectory in order to survive the the blast. And the pilot and crew practiced this maneuver until they could complete it in 40 to 42 seconds.

Ent Air Force Base was likely named for General Ent. The base was subsumed into NORAD.

--Ancheta Wis (talk) 10:46, 10 December 2007 (UTC)

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