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Persuasive Essay: The Ethical Use Of Nuclear Weapons

Use Of Nuclear Weapons By Thesis: The creation and use of nuclear weapons were an unnecessary, unsafe, and an unethical addition to the war industries already expansive arsenal. I. Nuclear weapons have a short, but expansive history. a) People who made the first discoveries about fission paved the way for nuclear weapons science. b) The Manhattan Project was the beginning of the nuclear age. I. Nuclear weapons are unnecessary. a) Nuclear weapons, and the states that possess them, cause tension and paranoia amongst their allies and enemies. b) Nuclear weapons have been the cause of multiple unnecessary ars among nuclear states.

III. Nuclear weapons are not seen as ethical. a) States who possess nuclear weapons can become super powers among other countries. b)Possessing a device that could potentially eliminate everything can be seen as morally unacceptable. IV. Nuclear weapons themselves are potentially unsafe. a) Nuclear terrorism is a major threat to today’s society. b) There are many risks while transporting nuclear weapons c) There are instances when nuclear meltdowns may occur. V. Nuclear weapons are a hazard to people and the environment. a) Radiation has many negative effects on the nvironment. c) Nuclear radiation has harmful effects on people and animals.

The creations of nuclear weapons were an incredible scientific feat. It made America look like a very advanced and powerful country, but when nuclear bombs were put to use in wartime, it made the world question the credibility of America’s reputation. And although it may have been an accomplishment, the creation and use of nuclear weapons were an unethical, unsafe, and an unnecessary addition to the war industries already expansive arsenal. In 1917 Earnest Rutherford did what science eemed impossible, he split the nucleus of an atom.

This led to Leo Szilard determining, in 1933, that bombarding certain heavy elements could not only cause them to fission, but if done correctly, could possibly start a chain reaction. Neutrons released from one atom would strike the nucleus of a nearby atom, freeing even more neutrons. It was possible that the process could even become self sustaining. If the energy was released gradually, it could be used as a source of power, but if it was released all at once it could possibly cause an explosion with temperatures close to those of the sun. Schlosser, pg. 9)

In 1938, Berlin, Lise Meitner and Otto Hahn created more history and split the uranium nucleus. In a famous letter, Albert Einstein warned United States President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, that based on work by scientists “it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power … would be generated… This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of… extremely powerful bombs.. A single bomb of this type… might very well destroy the whole [surrounding area and] some of the neighboring territory. And as per usual, he was more than right. Cirincione, pg. 1)

Although intrigued by the idea of creating it, the United States did not, at the time, actually consider using the atomic bomb as “The bomb could probably not be used without killing large numbers of civilians, and this may make it unsuitable as a weapon for use by [the United States]. ” But although they did not consider use they did think it necessary to possess in order to deter the Germans. By October 9, 1941, Roosevelt authorized the first, tentative, atomic bomb project, concluding that a uranium bomb could be available in time to elp the war effort- the material could be ready by the end of 1943.

The head of the National Defense Research Committee urged development of the weapon, but the attack on Pearl Harbor made conventional, well known weapons the military’s main focus. It was not until a year later that nuclear weapons projects came into full swing. (Cirincione pg. 3) The Manhattan Project was a research and development project lead by the United States with support from the United Kingdom and Canada. And it was the Manhattan Project that created and used the first nuclear weapons and it was they who learned so uch about this weapon and its components.

Conventional explosives, like TNT, detonate through a chemical reaction. They are unstable materials that can be rapidly converted into gasses of a much larger volume. The process by which they ignite is similar to the burning of a log in a fireplace- except that unlike the burning of said log, which is slow and steady, the combustion of an explosive is almost instantaneous. At the point of detonation, temperatures can reach as high as 9,000 degrees Fahrenheit and as hot gasses expand into the surrounding atmosphere they create a shock-wave of ompressed air that can carry tremendous force.

Although the thermal effects of the explosion from TNT could cause burns and set fires it is the blast wave, caused by the drastic change in air pressure that can knock down buildings. The appeal of a nuclear explosive is the even greater possibility for destructive force. A plutonium core the size of a tennis ball has the potential to raise the temperature at the point of detonation to tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit and increase the air pressure by many million PSIS, creating a monumental explosion, but this monumental explosion was not as easy to achieve as the Manhattan Project researchers and scientists might have thought. (Schlosser, pg. 38)

Uranium has an atomic number of ninety-two, meaning it has ninety-two protons in its nucleus. Scientists thought that that the neutrons were being absorbed by the uranium atoms, producing new, man-made elements, but chemical analysis indicated that was not the case. They quickly realized that under certain conditions of fission the nucleus would split in two like a living cell. But ordinary uranium cannot be used to make a bomb. Uranium, like many other elements, exists in several alternate forms, or isotopes.

Each isotope has the same number of protons, but varying number of neutrons. Most atoms in natural uranium are isotope U-238, which can fission, but only a quarter of the time. Isotope U-235, on the other hand, will undergo fission almost every time. They also found that plutonium could also fission to create a mass explosion. (Cirincione, pg. 5, 7) Sooner or later the scientists at the Manhattan project figured out the best and most efficient ways to create a nuclear bomb. Before long they were able to do the first controlled explosion of a nuclear bomb- this was referred to as the Trinity Test. At 5:30 a. m. n July 16, 1945, Los Alamos scientists detonated a plutonium bomb at a test site located on the U. S. Air Force base at Alamogordo, New Mexico, some 120 miles south of Albuquerque.

The explosion was bigger and better than scientists ever imagined, shaking houses and breaking glass tens of miles further than anticipated. The day after the Trinity Test, Szilard and more than sixty-eight other Manhattan Project scientists signed a petition addressed to the president Truman. It warned that using the bomb against Japan would open the door to an era of devastation and place Americans in continuous danger of sudden annihilation.

The petition never reached President Roosevelt, and even if it had, they doubted that it would have changed his mind. Roosevelt had never told his Vice President, Harry Truman, about the Manhattan Project or the weapon it was developing- so when Roosevelt dies April 12, 1945, Truman was thrown into the position of a charismatic leader during wartime. Many recognized that the new leader was unlikely to reverse the nuclear policy set in motion years earlier, because a group of scientists deemed it a bad idea. In the end, Truman’s decision to se the atomic bomb was influenced by many factors, and the desire to save American lives.

Originally, an invasion of Japan was scheduled for November first, but former president Herbert Hoover warned Truman that such an invasion would cost him anywhere between 500 thousand and a million lives. The war department assumed it would take 1. 8 million American troops for such an invasion and that they would lose close to half a million of them. That was not a risk anybody was willing to take at the time. And with that- the uranium bomb, code named Little Boy, was dropped on Hiroshima August 6, 1945, followed y the plutonium bomb, code named Fat Man, dropped on Nagasaki three days later. Schlosser, pg. 47)

Somewhere around 178,000 people died within the first two to four months after the attacks. This tremendous loss forced Japan to surrender and admit defeat to the United States, but at what cost? The jump into the nuclear age was a rapid and fear- provoking one- and after the attacks on Japan, America’s secret was out. The world knew about their super weapon, and everybody wanted it; but nuclear weapons, and the states that possess them, were the cause of tension and paranoia amongst heir allies and enemies.

Stalin saw the bomb as more than a weapon; he also saw it as a symbol of industrial might, scientific accomplishment, and national prestige. Stalin told scientists, “Hiroshima has shaken the whole world. The balance has been broken. Build the bomb- it will remove the great danger from us. ” But the USSR were not the only ones looking to build the bomb, Germany was also poking his nose into the developments of the quickly maturing Cold War. (Cirincione, pg. 17) At its peak there were 21,000 nuclear warheads stored between the United States and Russia.

Albert Einstein wrote, The idea of achieving security through national armaments is, at the present state of military technique, a disastrous illusion… The armament race between the USA and the USSR, originally supposed to be a preventative measure, assumes a hysterical character. ” (Cirincione pg. 22) CIA director George Tenet warned of a nuclear ripple effect in his testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence: “The desire for nuclear weapons is on the upsurge. Additional countries may decide to seek nuclear weapons as it becomes clear their neighbors and regional rivals are already doing so.

The ‘domino theory’ of the twenty first century may as well be nuclear. ” And right he was. (Cirincione, pg. 108) China cited US nuclear threats for its decision to build the bomb. As long as United States imperialism possesses nuclear bombs, China felt the need to have them too; and China’s nuclear tests forced India to consider its nuc options as well, which led to Pakistan beginning a nuclear program of their own. The destructive power of these weapons was so great that the logic of waging a preventative war, of launching a surprise attack on an enemy, might prove too hard to resist.

Similar to a shootout in the old west a nuclear war might be won by whoever fired first. (Cirincione, pg. 51, 82) The tension of a ‘nuclear shootout hung heavy in the air among many states. Sam Nunn proclaimed, “We are running the irrational risk of Armageddon of our own making… The more time the United States and Russia build into the process for ordering a nuclear strike the more is available to gather data, to exchange information, to gain perspective, to discover an error, to avoid an accidental or authorized launch.

And his proclamation proved true when in January of 1995 Russian force s mistook a Norwegian weather rocket for a US submarinelaunched ballistic missile. Russian president Bons Yeltsin had the ‘nuclear suitcase’ open and ready to launch. The risks get even worse when multiple states get involved. What a state might see as a defensive move could provoke dangerous reactions from a neighboring state. A nuclear reaction chain reaction could ripple through a region and across the globe triggering weapon decisions in several other states. (Cirincione, pg. , 97, 103)

As necessary is it may seem, it is difficult, if not impossible, to convince other states to give up nuclear war ambitions or adhere to nonproliferation norms when immensely powerful nuclear weapons states reassert the importance of nuclear weapons to their own security. If the most powerful military nations in the world say that nuclear weapons are necessary for their security, why should a weaker military nation conclude it is not? It is a bit like parents trying to convince their children not to smoke, when they each have a two-pack a day habit and are constantly extolling the pleasures of smoking.

It is the danger of nuclear weapons in too many hands that President Kennedy warned of in 1963, “I ask you to stop and think for a moment what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in so many hands, in the hands of countries large and small, stable and unstable, responsible and irresponsible, scatter throughout the world. There would be no rest for anyone then; no stability, no real security, and no real chance of effective disarment. There would only be increased chance accidental way, and an increased necessity for the great powers to involve themselves in what would be otherwise local conflicts. ” (Cirincione, pg. 103)

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