Stockpiling Weapons of Mass Destruction
Advancements in science and technology bring many resources to alter humanity's view of the world. With powers that are both great and awful, it is a precarious point of knowing when and if to use the tools that science discovers. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) are a double edged sword of scientific knowledge in their presentation of peace and power at catastrophic cost. They take the form of biological, chemical and radiological compounds, as well as nuclear weapons. Biologically, there are microbes that can incapacitate or kill people. Chemistry and radiology bring the ability to manufacture compounds that are toxic to humans and can be spread in food, the atmosphere and water supplies. Nuclear weaponry, potentially one of the better known threats facing the world, has the capability of annihilation by the mere splitting of atoms.
In observance of the threats created through scientific study many members of the United Nations have signed agreements and treaties to either remove or stop proliferation of WMDs. For example, the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention became effective in 1975 and prohibits the development or possession of biological or chemical weapons for non-peaceful purposes by it's members. Signed in 1997, the Chemical Weapons Convention follows the same guidelines. Many treaties exist for the mediation of nuclear weapons and stockpiles, which began with the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) in 1965 that limited nuclear weapons testing to non-atmospheric conditions and sites (i.e. underground and underwater only). Subsequently the failed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, written in the 1990s, attempted to abolish all forms of nuclear testing. Most recent is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which is the most successful. Unlike its predecessor, the NPT proscribes the spreading of nuclear weapons and technology to nations in which they do not already exist. However, the NPT does not prohibit nations already possessing nuclear weapons from using them in testing.
Reuters reports that the Obama Administration is pursuing agreements with Russia that will hopefully decrease some tension. To this end, both nations have tentatively agreed to reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675 from what is now over 2,200. Russia and the US have 95% of the nuclear weapons in the world between them. Military flights will also be allowed air transit over Russian territories at no cost, increasing US access to Afghanistan and the Taliban. Some Russian officials say that nothing can be agreed upon unless the US is willing to give some concessions on matters important to Russia. For example, Russia would like to see some changes in the anti-missile shield that the US is developing in Europe, which they feel is a threat to their nation.
Decreasing the number of nuclear weapons would greatly help to reduce the threat created by their existence. Many treaties and agreements have been signed by a majority of the countries in the world to achieve this goal. The existence and stockpiling of dangerous biological, chemical, radiological and nuclear weapons is a perverse incentive to their usage. Being the two nations with the largest quantities and most advanced research in nuclear technology, Russia and the US set a good example for the world by taking steps to reduce their active stockpiles. Between these superpowers there is more than enough potency for mutual assured annihilation, and by using nuclear weaponry the rest of the world would suffer as well. It is necessary to decrease tension and nuclear stockpiles in order to improve relations and further the goal of removing WMDs around the world.
Spetalnick, Matt and Shchedrov, Oleg. "U.S, Russia agree arms cuts, Afghan transit" Reuters 6 July 2009. 27 June 2009