The World and Nuclear Weapons


Today is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. In honor of this day, Spotlight looks at who has nuclear weapons, who does not, and why these bombs exist.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb killed 80,000 people in just a few seconds. Three days later, the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. More people were killed and the city was destroyed. But these bombs also released radiation. Radiation is poisonous to humans. In the weeks that followed, many thousands of people died.

Voice 2  

This was the only time in human history when atomic weapons were used in war. The result was terrible. This event changed human history. It changed how people thought about radiation and atomic weapons. But it did not stop countries from making more atomic bombs. And some countries continue to make even more powerful bombs. Today’s Spotlight is on why some countries have atomic bombs, why other countries do not, and why these bombs exist.

Voice 1  

Atomic bombs are one kind of nuclear bomb. The other is called a hydrogen bomb. Both are very powerful and very deadly. The science of making a nuclear bomb is very complex. The technology costs a lot of money. Countries that have them keep secret the method of making a bomb. Even working with the material to make the bombs can be very, very dangerous.

Voice 2  

Scientists have been learning about nuclear energy since the early 1900s. People were excited about the power that nuclear energy provides. But when people learned about nuclear bombs, these weapons spread quickly. One reason for this was the political situation at the time. It was during the Cold War, from the end of World War II until about 1991. During this period, much of the world was afraid that war could happen again at any time. So the major powers in the world collected weapons, including nuclear bombs.

Voice 1

 There are only nine countries that have nuclear weapons. They are: Russia, the United States, China, India, Israel, France, North Korea, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Most of these countries have between 80 and 300 bombs. But two countries have many more. Russia and the United States have over 5,000 bombs each. These bombs have enough power to destroy the whole planet.

Voice 2  

Other countries are trying to get nuclear weapons. In recent years both Iran and Syria have tried to develop nuclear weapons. But countries are not permitted to develop nuclear weapons whenever they want. This is because of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This treaty bans countries from proliferating, or making and spreading, nuclear bombs. The countries of the United Nations agreed on this treaty in 1970. It states that nuclear power technology is for any country. But no new countries can develop nuclear weapons. And those countries that have nuclear weapons will try and destroy the weapons they have.

Voice 1  

This is why the United Nations tried to stop Iran from creating a nuclear bomb in 2005. To do this, they used sanctions. Sanctions can include locking bank accounts, stopping trade, and requiring inspections – where people and places are examined to make sure they are following the rules.

Voice 2  

Is this fair? Is it fair for countries with nuclear bombs to tell other countries they cannot have them? After all, if a country has a nuclear bomb, they become more important in global politics.

Voice 1  

For example, North Korea is not a large country. It does not have a strong economy. But North Korea has a nuclear bomb. Having a nuclear bomb makes North Korea a more powerful country. There are many things about the government of North Korea that other countries do not like. The United Nations has even placed sanctions against North Korea. But the United Nations is very slow to act because they know that North Korea has a nuclear weapon.

Voice 2  

On one level, sanctions do not seem fair. The United States is the only country to ever use a nuclear weapon in war. So why should they decide who can be responsible? There are five members of the United Nations Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries have the most powerful armies in the world. But does that mean they can tell other countries what to do?

Voice 1  

ICAN is the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. This organization believes that even one nuclear weapon is too many. The ICAN website states that,

Voice 3  

“A single nuclear weapon could kill millions of people. These effects last for many years. The failure of the nuclear powers to get rid of their weapons has raised the risk that other countries will get nuclear weapons. The only way to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons is to destroy them immediately. Although the leaders of some nations have expressed their desire for a nuclear-weapon-free world, they have failed to develop any plans to reduce their weapons. In fact, they are improving them.”

Voice 2  

Destroying nuclear weapons is not easy. It is just as dangerous to break a bomb into pieces as it is to build it. Nuclear bombs contain explosive materials, nuclear materials, as well as electronics and the bomb case. People could steal or lose the dangerous bomb materials. And even when a bomb is destroyed completely the poisonous radioactive material still needs to be stored. It will continue to be dangerous for hundreds of years.

Voice 1  

Destroying nuclear weapons is difficult. It costs a lot of money. And it takes a long time. But ICAN says that does not mean countries should not try. ICAN argues that,

Voice 3  

“Nuclear weapons threaten the environment and humans. They release huge amounts of energy in the form of force, heat and radiation. No good humanitarian response is possible. A bomb would cause tens of millions of immediate deaths. A nuclear war could change the global climate and food production so much that more than a billion people would be at risk of starving.”

Voice 2  

Do you worry about nuclear weapons? Do you think it is fair that some countries have them and other countries do not? Do you think we should get rid of all nuclear weapons? Tell us what you think. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this program was Adam Navis. The producer was Michio Ozaki. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘The World and Nuclear Weapons’.

Voice 2  

Look for our listening app in the Google Play Store and in iTunes. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Who should decide who has nuclear weapons and who does not? Do you worry about nuclear weapons?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Giant
said on November 06, 2017

No for nuclear weapons everywhere , no country have the right to kill another country’s people . Unfortunately when we are talking about civilizations in 21 century and developing this disaster kind of weapons !
  Thank you !

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Honneur
said on June 17, 2018

I think it is not fair a few countries can have nuclear weapons and others can not. I don’t believe in treaties because I think they are only simple papers that can be destroyed any time. When the URSS were colapsed, in 1991, Ukraine agreed to deliver his nuclear weapons and became a country whitout nuclear weapons. Today, Ukraine is missing territories to Russia and don’t can make nothing…

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on September 27, 2018

From: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
To: spotlight programme
Subject: to answere to the questions below
Date: Thursday 27, September 2018
São Paulo SP Brazil

Dear Colin Lowther, Liz Waid, Adam Navis, and Michio Ozaki:

First, I want to thank you for bringing us more one important theme.
Questions:
Question 1 - Who should decide who has nuclear weapons and who does not? Well, It is a very difficult answer to respond but I think that The United States of America, The organizagion of nuclear weapons, and the ICAN International Campaingn should decide that difficult argument. We know that each country should have its own security to protect its nation, culture and values. However, that complex subject should be decided by The President of The United States of America Donald Trump , in secret , in closed room with his team, and respecting the Sanctions rules.
Question 2 - Do you worry about nuclear weapons? Yes, I do. Peace between people is much better.
Thank you very much
Your regards,
Severino Ramos
From Brazil

Avatar Spotlight
quantuminds
said on October 05, 2018

Fair or unfair is based on the power of that country, if countries have strong economies, powerful politics, they have a right to decide a law of the game.

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Najibullah NOORI
said on October 07, 2018

I think it is not fair to have each country the unclear bomb, they have no capacity to keep it , may the weapon will reach to the terrorists

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vbratishko
said on October 09, 2018

Hi all!
I am from Ukraine. After USSR was destroyed we have had a third world largest amount of nuclear weapons. But we had lost it in change of guarantee of our safety and integrity from nuclear states - USA and Russia and other.
Now we are under Russian aggression. Part of our territory is occupied by Russia an Russia backed forces. Thousands Ukrainians was killed, millions has lost their homes and became refugee. Guarantee became a paper.
If we would have nuclear weapons it could prevent Russian aggression. But, instead, we have war, graves of our soldiers and millions of refugees.
As a result, any nation have right to have nuclear weapons to protect its freedom and people.
Nuclear weapons can guarantee peace, not agreements.
It’s my own opinion.
Thank you.