Nuclear Weapons in Russia

The United States and Russia control 95 percent of the world's nuclear weapons. The breakup of the Soviet Union left nuclear weapons sites scattered across Russia and the former Soviet republics. Since the, the United States and Russia have reduced their nuclear arsenals although both still retain thousands of nuclear weapons. With international aid, Russia recovered and then dismantled nuclear weapons from its former territories. In recent years, Russian support for nuclear power programs in Iran have led to renewed tensions between Russia and the United States.

Even while the United States and Russia agreed to further reductions in their nuclear stockpiles, many people worried about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists. Other nuclear nations, including India or Pakistan, were potential targets for terrorist groups seeking nuclear weapons. Securing all nuclear weapons and materials worldwide remains a top priority

Photo of a protest where a man holds a banner reading using atomic energy is our certain right, with another inscription below in Arabic.

Iranian leaders claim that the Iranian nuclear program is for generating power. At an event marking the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, a man carries a sign supporting Iran's nuclear program.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

As you have read, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) include nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons include the atomic bomb. Biological weapons refer mainly to germs that can be released into the air or into water supplies. Chemical weapons are toxins, such as nerve gas and mustard gas.

Recently, the danger from WMDs has grown, as terrorist groups and “rogue states”—nations that ignore international law and threaten other nations—try to acquire them. NATO is working to prevent WMDs from reaching terrorists and has prepared recovery efforts if a WMD attack occurs. The U.S. and other nations also want to make sure that terrorists do not buy knowledge from WMD experts.

Photo of several people in hazmat uniforms with insulated body suits and large enclosed head shields.

Investigators must wear protective gear in order to shield them from possible biological or chemical weapons.

The Growing Threat of Terrorism

Since the 1990s, the world has witnessed a growing threat from terrorism. Terrorism is the use of violence, especially against civilians, by groups of extremists to achieve political goals.

Terrorist groups seek to produce widespread fear. They use headline-grabbing tactics to draw attention to their demands.


End ofPage 895

Table of Contents

World History Topic 1 Origins of Civilization (Prehistory–300 B.C.) Topic 2 The Ancient Middle East and Egypt (3200 B.C.–500 B.C.) Topic 3 Ancient India and China (2600 B.C.–A.D. 550) Topic 4 The Americas (Prehistory–A.D. 1570) Topic 5 Ancient Greece (1750 B.C.–133 B.C.) Topic 6 Ancient Rome and the Origins of Christianity (509 B.C.-A.D. 476) Topic 7 Medieval Christian Europe (330–1450) Topic 8 The Muslim World and Africa (730 B.C.-A.D. 1500) Topic 9 Civilizations of Asia (500–1650) Topic 10 The Renaissance and Reformation (1300–1650) Topic 11 New Global Connections (1415–1796) Topic 12 Absolutism and Revolution Topic 13 The Industrial Revolution Topic 14 Nationalism and the Spread of Democracy (1790–1914) Topic 15 The Age of Imperialism (1800–1914) Topic 16 World War I and the Russian Revolution (1914–1924) Topic 17 The World Between the Wars (1910–1939) Topic 18 World War II (1930–1945) Topic 19 The Cold War Era (1945–1991) Topic 20 New Nations Emerge (1945–Present) Topic 21 The World Today (1980-Present) United States Constitution Primary Sources 21st Century Skills Atlas Glossary Index Acknowledgments