The Dangers of Nuclear "Progress"

Sita
20th Century
4/30/98

In August of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic (nuclear) bombs on Japan, killing more than 140,000 people and leaving the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in ruins. The dropping of the bombs not only marked the end of World War II, but demonstrated the incredible power and effects of nuclear technology, as well. After seeing this, one would think that countries would realize the dangers of this new technology, and do something to get rid of it. However, this has not been the case. In fact, more and more nations have been producing their own nuclear weapons, even after they made agreements not to. Now, with enough nuclear weapons to blow up the world a good 10 times, experts can't help but wonder if this "progress" has gone to far.
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan should have caused alarms to sound in people's heads…"Danger, danger!" Just one of these bombs has the ability to wipe out an entire country. The United States did make an attempt after World War II at eliminating nuclear proliferation by proposing the Baruch Plan in the United Nations. This proposal stated that all nuclear technology and materials be placed under international ownership and that all nuclear weapons be destroyed. However, the Soviet Union feared that the United States would always have a military advantage if they gave up their plans for building a nuclear device and, therefore, rejected the proposal.
I think that the refusal of the Soviet Union was a big mistake on their part. Not only did they put the safety of the U.S.S.R on the line, but of the whole world, as well. By rejecting that proposal, other countries would soon follow America's example, producing nuclear weapons of their own. By 1952, the Soviet Union and Great Britain had produced and exploded their first nuclear weapons, and nuclear technology was spreading across the world quickly. Despite efforts of the United States to prevent the spread of nuclear proliferation ("Atoms for Peace" program), countries continued to produce nuclear arms secretly.
By the early 1960s, France and China joined as nations with nuclear powers. The original nuclear powers feared that more countries would follow, but nonnuclear countries felt they were at a disadvantage lacking nuclear weapons. Because of this, other countries felt the need to develop nuclear materials no matter what it took. As more countries produced their own weapons, the world was becoming more and more potentially dangerous.
Although some experts feel that nuclear weapons have helped to prevent peace between the Soviet Union and the United States, I can't help but think otherwise. The United States and the Soviet Union may not have gone to war yet, but relations between them are far from favorable. Both countries were trying to prevent war out of fear, not peace. With nuclear proliferation, it only takes one crazy "Stalin or Hitler-type" leader to decide to drop a bomb, which could cause another country to drop one, and soon the entire world could be destroyed. I know this may sound a little rash but it is possible, and I don't think any possible dangers should be overlooked.
Even if nuclear proliferation did contribute to the prevention of war between the United States and the Soviet Union, it led to feelings of hostility between other nonnuclear and nuclear powers. The nonnuclear nations (or less nuclear developed) resented the nuclear powers, and felt it necessary to build weapons or increase their supply. If weapons would have been outlawed after World War II, this problem would probably not exist today, and I wouldn't be writing this paper.