- Education and Science»
- History & Archaeology»
- Military History
What are WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction)?
Weapons of mass destruction are weapons capable of destroying a vast number of structures, people, and other life. The term has evolved over time and is primarily used to describe nuclear, biological, chemical or other unconventional weaponry. The use of weapons of mass destruction has been deemed necessary during some time periods while in recent years many developed countries have progressed toward disarmament of such weaponry. In some cases such as with the fall of the Soviet Union some nations have large stockpiles of such weapons but have difficulty maintaining them. This article will examine different types WMD and instances where they've been used.
This form of warfare has been developed since the 1940s during World War II. Nuclear weapons are often added as part of missiles and can effectively destroy entire cities. Below are some instances of their use.
- This technology was being developed by NAZI Germany during World War II. Many believe had it not been for soldiers destroying facilities that the Germans were using that the first atomic bomb might have been made in Germany.
- As many know the first atomic bombs to be dropped on a living population was in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which effectively ended the second world war.
- After World War II the Soviet Union and the United States engaged in an arms race stockpiling massive amounts of nuclear weapons in what was believed would eventually become a possible nuclear war.
- With the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, both Russia and the United states have scaled back the nuclear weapons they maintain.
- In recent years as money problems in Russia has been an issue so to has it been an issue of their nuclear technology falling into terrorist hands. This type of technology in the wrong hands could one day mean the death of millions if not safe guarded.
Chemical weapons today include things like lethal gases and nerve toxins.
- The first uses of chemical warfare began long ago in the form of poison tipped spears and arrows which was adopted by many cultures.
- Evidence suggests throughout ancient and medieval times many cultures used foul smelling smoke and gases as a deterrent and to cause death to enemies. The delivery system primarily relied on wind however in some instances these gases were pumped into tunnels, caves, etc.
- Beginning in the early 19th century different types of nerve gases were developed and used throughout World War I and World War II.
- Today many countries have huge stockpiles of these nerve gases.
Biological weapons today are very complex and are often engineered in laboratories as opposed to how they originally came about. Also known as germ warfare it involves using viruses, bacteria, fungal and other types of infectious substances to infect an enemy population. This might be to disable them long enough to allow a take over or simply to eradicate them. Below are some instances of this type of warfare being used from ancient times to present.
- During the period of Turkish and Mongol incursions into Europe diseased animal remains were used by them to poison the water of their enemies. The Mongols also employed the rather disturbing habit of catapulting diseased human remains into cities that were under siege.
- During the colonial period in North America at least once but possibly many times blankets and other objects tainted with small pox were given to natives.
- During World War I the German armies began to use Anthrax to poison opposing forces.
- In the 20th century many countries signed treaties in what was supposed to abolish the use of biological weapons. However it has been proven that some countries despite signing such agreements continue to develop and even use these weapons.