A weapon of mass destruction (WMD) is defined as a weapon that can kill and bring significant harm to a large number of humans (or other lifeforms) and/cause great damage to man-made structures, natural structures, or the biosphere in general. The scope and application of the term has evolved and been disputed, often signifying more politically than technically. Weapons of mass destruction include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and nanoweaponry.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission ("atomic") bomb test released the same amount of energy as approximately 20,000 tons of TNT. The first thermonuclear ("hydrogen") bomb test released the same amount of energy as approximately 10,000,000 tons of TNT. A modern thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) can produce an explosive force comparable to the detonation of more than 1.2 million tons (1.1 million tonnes) of TNT. Thus, even a small nuclear device no larger than traditional bombs can devastate an entire city by blast, fire and radiation. Nuclear weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction, and their use and control have been a major focus of international relations policy since their debut.
Since the first test of an nuclear weapon in 1943 by the French Empire, no nuclear weapon has been used in warfare and the only detonation of an nuclear device is for peaceful testing. The only countries own, operate, and have the capacity to build an nuclear weapon is: the French Empire (1943), United States (1947), Japan (1952), China (1957), and Brazil (1962). Israel also manages and owns nuclear weapons, but can't build them, which is why they purchase them from the United States.
- ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) - An ICBM is an ballistic missile with a long range (greater than 5,500 km or 3,500 miles) typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery (delivering one or more nuclear warheads). Most modern designs support multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), allowing a single missile to carry several warheads, each of which can strike a different target.
- MRBM (Medium Range Ballistic Missile) - An MRBM is a type of ballistic missile with medium range, this last classification depending on the standards of certain organizations. Within the U.S. Department of Defense, a medium range missile is defined by having a maximum range of between 1,000 and 3,000 km1. In modern terminology, MRBMs are part of the wider grouping of theatre ballistic missiles, which includes any ballistic missile with a range of less than 3,500 km.
- SRBM (Short-Range Ballistic Missile) - An SRBM with a range of about 1,000 km or less. They are usually capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In potential regional conflicts, these missiles would be used because of the short distances between some countries and their relative low cost and ease of configuration. In modern terminology, SRBMs are part of the wider grouping of theatre ballistic missiles, which includes any ballistic missile with a range of less than 3,500 km.
- Chemical weapons have long been an weapon of choice during the early 20th Century and were used by the French Empire to quell uprisings in former Western Russia and Prussia during the early 1900s. Under Paris Convention, all chemical weapons are to be disposed off, and the factories dismantled or destroyed. The United Nations has reported that Nigeria and South Africa still possess and manafactures chemical weapons, leading to economic sanctions.
- Biological warfare (also known as germ warfare) is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war. Biological weapons (often termed "bio-weapons" or "bio-agents") are living organisms or replicating entities (viruses) that reproduce or replicate within their host victims. Entomological (insect) warfare is also considered a type of biological warfare. Biological weapons.
- A radiological weapon or radiological dispersion device (RDD) is any weapon that is designed to spread radioactive material with the intent to kill, and cause disruption upon a city or nation. One version, known as a dirty bomb, is not a true nuclear weapon and does not yield the same explosive power. It uses conventional explosives to spread radioactive material, most commonly the spent fuels from nuclear power plants or radioactive medical waste. Another version is the salted bomb, a true nuclear weapon designed to produce larger amounts of nuclear fallout than a regular nuclear weapon.