death, the destroyer of worlds

Tyler Murphy

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
-J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of The Manhattan Project.

It is estimated that world wide there are about 30,000 nuclear weapons. At any given time, on any given day, it is estimated that more than 1,500 of those weapons are prepared for immediate launch.

The United States lays claim to only one third of the world’s entire arsenal boasting almost 10,000 warheads, carrying a total destructive force of 1,800 megatons- enough to destroy every square inch of life on the planet 18 times over.

Russia and its block states have roughly 16,000 nuclear weapons boasting about 2,900 megatons, enough to 29 planet Earths. (but there’s only one)

All but two percent of all nuclear weapons currently in existence were either made in America or in the Soviet Union.

Side note: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s formal name, (I’m trying not to laugh) is estimated to have about ten nuclear weapons.

The nine countries that currently have nuclear weapons are Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, United States, North Korea, and Israel. (Only Israel has not acknowledged having them publicly, although their diplomats have accidentally confirmed it and so has the U.S. military)

South Africa and several Soviet block states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had weapons but have since dismantled their programs with international observers verifying their efforts.

It seems to me, that in my generation at least, the fear associated with the prospect of nuclear annihilation has been largely forgotten.

It’s true we have Iran and North Korea to deal with in our time but their delivery systems and weapons don’t hold a candle to the threat faced by the generations who grew up in the vast shadow of the U.S.S.R.- punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I wonder if our complacency is a good thing or bad.

“Nuclear weapons give no quarter. Their effects transcend time and place, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for meaningful survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations, but the very meaning of civilization.”

-General Lee Butler, former commander for all US Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear forces.