Nuclear warfare

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Ramses II at Kadesh.jpgGustavus Adolphus at the Battle at Breitenfeld.jpgM1A1 abrams front.jpg Military history

Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weapons are used. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare is vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage. A major nuclear exchange could have severe long-term effects, primarily from radiation release but also from possible atmospheric pollution leading to nuclear winter, that could last for decades, centuries, or even millennia after the initial attack.[1][2] Nuclear war is considered to bear existential risk for civilization on Earth.[3][4]

The first, and to date only, nuclear war was World War II: near the end of the war, the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.[5][6] At the time of those bombings, the United States was the only country to possess atomic weapons. After World War II, nuclear weapons were also developed by the United Kingdom, France, the Soviet Union, and the People's Republic of China, which contributed to the state of conflict and tension that became known as the Cold War. In the 1970s, India and 1990s, Pakistan, countries openly hostile to each other, developed nuclear weapons. Israel, North Korea, and South Africa are also believed to have developed nuclear weapons, although South Africa subsequently abandoned them.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resultant end of the Cold War, the threat of a major nuclear war between the superpowers was generally thought to have receded. Since then, concern over nuclear weapons has shifted to the prevention of localized nuclear conflicts resulting from nuclear proliferation, and the threat of nuclear terrorism.

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