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Atomic and nuclear weapons are certainly the most destructive weapons Earth has in modern times, able to rupture cities. In the present, while we have the NPT (Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) that desires nuclear disarmament, some countries still have nuclear weapons for the defensive in the form of ICBMs (Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles), some refuse to join this treaty, and some countries might still be making more.

However, for my story, I want to imagine a scenario on an alternate Earth, a scenario so terrible and something that happened due to the atomic and nuclear weapons, that prompted all countries across the globe, to finally agree that they must never be used again, and all pre-existing atomic and nuclear weapons have to be disarmed and disabled immediately. In other words, global disarmament. Just what scenario could this be?

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  • $\begingroup$ PS: My bad for the question about the fissile material. Though, I must point out, this community is one that talks about superweapons and world destruction all the time. I made an alternate variant of that question in the Physics Stack Exchange, and also worded it properly to sound less awful. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '20 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ This is missing a critical condition: the intent or purpose of the action. For example, @o.m. beat me to the obvious conclusion that a better weapon was discovered, leading to universal disarmament. Except that no disarmament actually happened, right? Therefore, are you ONLY looking for the nukes to go away, or are you looking for actual DISARMAMENT, meaning that no weapons as destructive as nukes of any kind are allowed? (Bear in mind that the world has some conventional bunker-buster bombs that explode in the low nuclear range - just no radiation.) $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '20 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ The very idea that all countries could agree on something and that no country would then change its mind is incredibly naive. Take for example the United States of America, a very powerful power, and try to determine one single foreign policy position which it held unchanged for, oh, the last 25 years or so. The point being that people know how to make atomic bombs. No matter what paper they sign, they will always know how to make them. And what happens when Ruritania, fifteen years from now, decides that it has changed its mind? $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 10 '20 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ The American second amendment - the unfettered right to bear arms - guarantees this is an impossibility. Not until the American Constitution is rewritten will this happen. But maybe that is your starting point. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '20 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ Just as a funny aside to @JustinThymetheSecond's comment... I grew up next to a guy who built a "missile." It looked like a missile - about 20' long, fins, pointy-nose, various U.S. markings - until you saw the "fuse" (a piece of rope) coming out the back of the tube. The government made him take it down. While the legal concept of personal firearm ownership is embodied in the Constitution and, so, the idea that our nation should have anything the other guy has ... but I'm pretty sure I can't own a nuke. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '20 at 20:27

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Nuclear blasts open portals to hell

Every time you use a nuke, you open a portal to another dimension and creatures from it are able to invade Earth. These creatures are not intimidated by the Square Cube Law and are therefore insanely big and strong. They don't communicate with humans and simply commit genocide whenever they come.

Now that could be weaponized - you could simply nuke an enemy and let the aliens wipe out any survivors anyway. But that doesn't work because the portals move over the surface of the Earth - you could bomb some place 12 time zones away from you and still have some kaijus stomping on your capital.


Alternatively, if you think everything will be ok as long as no one shoots first, make it so that the mere presence of nuclear weapons opens up those portals.

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    – L.Dutch
    Nov 12 '20 at 20:30
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There is something better around.

Nuclear weapons are much better than conventional bombs at smashing cities or army logistics bases. One bomber with one nuke can have more effect than a dozen thousand bomber raids.

Nuclear weapons are not all that much better at smashing armored divisions in the field or carrier battle groups at sea. Yes, a nuclear cruise missile will ruin a carrier's day, but so will a big conventional warhead. A tactical nuclear weapon doesn't need a direct hit to kill a tank, but how many tanks will be caught in the radius of effect? So against armies, modern precision-guided munitions could be more effective when all the costs of a nuclear weapon are taken into account, from building the centrifuges to disposing the nuclear waste. If you could send a dozen conventional missiles against that carrier for the cost of one nuclear missiles, if you could send a hundred air-to-ground missiles for the cost of one nuclear bomb, which one is the more rational choice?

We're probably not there yet, but governments all over the world worry about the American Prompt Global Strike, and what it will do to the military balance.

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    – L.Dutch
    Nov 11 '20 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ @T.J.L. fixed, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Nov 11 '20 at 18:51
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Unexplained increasing instability

In the beginning it was hardly noticeable, but more and more instances are slowly realising that something weird is going on with their radio active materials. It seems to be.... agitated. It's becoming more and more difficult to keep the materials stable, predictable and 'safe'. And the enriched materials are destabilizing faster!

At one point someone said "ehm, don't we have nuclear bombs becoming more unstable?!". The owners of the bombs are becoming aware that their 'great tactical advantage' is slowly turning into a time bomb on their own soil! If they don't dismantle them, they might explode in their own backyard!


The 'why' they become more unstable might be handwaved, or some plot hook. Could be some scientist wanted to get rid of nuclear bomb, whatever the cost. Or some weird radiation from space from an exploding star arriving at earth.

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  • $\begingroup$ This reminds me of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/106920/… - "The power of an explosive in military use is secondary. The primary consideration is always reliability." Something that would accelerate the disarmament would be if the instability is not unknown - a foreign power being able to remotely prematurely trigger your nukes would be quite the deterrent. $\endgroup$
    – Rob Watts
    Nov 12 '20 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ In the described scenario, I imagine primary superpowers convincing other nations to house their nuclear arsenals (forgetting to mention the instability issue that non-nuke nations might not know about). Alternately, storing used-to-be-ICBMs in space might be considered reasonable after (at least) one nuke-owning country refuses to agree to complete disarmament. $\endgroup$
    – Extrarius
    Nov 15 '20 at 15:12
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My feeling is that voluntary dismissal of nuclear weapon is nothing more than wishful thinking.

The atrocities caused by chemical weapons during WWI have led to a stop of their usage by most of the combatants afterwards, though some continue to produce them.

The atrocities caused by nukes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki haven't stopped their improvement, and the treaties have just stopped their proliferation.

The only "feasible" way I foresee for an actual stop to the nuclear weapons is that we run out of materials to make them: we are not able to synthesize Uranium, and being it radioactive it will inevitably decade into non usable elements. Without Uranium we won't be able to produce Plutonium, which will also decade.

Once we are out of Uranium and Plutonium we won't also be able to ignite fusion weapon. At that point the leaders of all nuclear powers on Earth will brag about how much they love peace and how they decide to dismantle their nuclear arsenal.

"Small" caveat: Uranium-235 has an half life of 700 million years. Any president who wants the Nobel prize for peace merits using the above method will need to plan something so that humanity can survive that long.

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  • $\begingroup$ I tend to agree, but if the OP is looking for ideas then it's worth reading the short story "To Howard Hughes: A Modest Proposal" by Joe Haldeman. $\endgroup$ Nov 11 '20 at 1:59
  • $\begingroup$ I would have abstained from the word "improvement"...! $\endgroup$
    – Xi'an
    Nov 11 '20 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ This is not true, we can create the required amount of Pu-239 without any already fissile material, quite cheaply (but more costly as we do it now). In particle accelerators, U-238 must be shot with energetic protons, this would produce Np-239, which beta decays to Pu-239 with the half life of 2-3 days. After an initial set of Pu-239 was produced, it could be easily multiplied in breeding reactors, that would be already cheap. Well, maybe the greens would get itchy, but it is only their religion (that all nuclear technology is bad). $\endgroup$
    – Gray Sheep
    Nov 11 '20 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ The stop of chemical weapons was not mainly driven by the atrocities of WW1 but rather by the fact that they aren't particularly more effective than an equivalent cost/amount of conventional weapons - so giving up chemical weapons to gain some humanitarian benefits is reasonable because it does not really hamper your military capabilities much. Nobody in WW2 said "ah, if only we had made chlorine shells instead of HE, that would have helped". Giving up nuclear weapons does reduce your war abilities, so that won't get done - until/unless there's something that makes nuclear weapons obsolete. $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Nov 11 '20 at 20:39
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    $\begingroup$ @KerrAvon2055 For anyone interested in the plot (since there's little information online) it's about a billionaire who secretly plants nuclear bombs in 28 cities worldwide, attached to a deadman's switch. He threatens to detonate them all unless all nuclear weapons are surrendered. $\endgroup$
    – John Smith
    Nov 11 '20 at 21:31
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One world wide country

I want to imagine a scenario on an alternate Earth, a scenario so terrible and something that happened due to the atomic and nuclear weapons, that prompted all countries across the globe, to finally agree that they must never be used again, and all pre-existing atomic and nuclear weapons have to be disarmed and disabled immediately

The end result of the war was the global understanding that all mankind shares the same little, fragile, ball of dirt suspended in hostile void. We all share the same problems and therefore a global government is the most sensible solution. The European Union is the real world example. No matter it's current limits and shortcomings the basic idea still stands. Common problems need shared solutions which can only come from unified government. From the ashes of WW2 political thinkers brought forward the need for a better way to handle issues than battling each other.

This process of unification has proceeded with civilization. The more interconnected the world becomes the more it is felt to have a shared government for effective management.

So. Why would you keep a nuclear arsenal if your own country encompasses the whole world?

Yes, since this is still the real world and not fairy land there will still be discontent in some places, sometime riots, even guerrilla and terrorist activities. But none of these threats to the State are going to be solved with nukes.

Building nuclear weapons is expensive. You need a solid reason to invest into it. Even more so if you don't have fission reactors anymore because you have moved on to more cost effective ways to generate energy.

Without the need fissile material would have better uses for civilian applications.

Given that nukes are not of any use anymore on Earth could they be employed in space? Not really. A future world spanning civilization is most likely to be able to track all bodies in the solar system that could pose a real threat and track their orbit for the future. With hundreds of years advance warning methods of nudging the incoming asteroid would be feasible.

Last option: a possible alien invasion? Depends on your story. No efficient real-world government would waste money for this reason unless there are proofs of existence of alien civilizations. Of course a more corrupt government could set up mock aliens as existential threat to rally the people together, suffocate dissent and justify large governmental spending into the military/industrial complex owned by the members of government themselves or their overlords.

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Destruction of everything

When the CFC in spray cans destroyed the ozone layer, the world knew immediately what to do. Ban them all. Otherwise, we'd all be dead quite quickly.

Nuclear weapons can have such side effects. If the oxygen in the atmosphere would possibly ignite, which they thought could become a chain reaction that would burn the atmosphere. This proved to be false, but what if. If they see this could happen and we lucked out so far, they would instantly remove all such weapons, as a single bomb killing all life on the Earth is simply not worth it. It could still be used as a deterrent, meaning no-one would dare attacking someone with a bomb too much, much like it is currently done. Only the consequences could be greater. Only one bomb per country (or with some redundancy a few) is needed to scare off most countries.

Alternatively they do something similar to CFC. Destroy something vital that in short or long term can have huge consequences for everyone. That would remove the benefit of using a bomb. Destroying a city or army just isn't advantageous enough if for example all fertiliser in the world is reduced, or a large amount of sealife dies, or if the radiation sweeps the planet, killing and poisoning indiscriminately. If a military weapon like a nuke also hits yourself to such a degree, there is no real use of using the terrifying power of a nuke.

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    $\begingroup$ The belief that the oxygen in the air would ignite was a fairy tale spread by modern-day conspiracy theorists. it was never a credible idea. Lightning itself produces nuclear fission and fusion and anti-matter production and gamma radiation and just about everything else. yet the oxygen, ad life, remains. $\endgroup$ Nov 10 '20 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ This is good enough for a story. Perhaps not literally setting the air on fire, but if, say, nuclear bombs unavoidably triggered a nuclear chain reaction in atmospheric nitrogen, everything on land would die. $\endgroup$
    – Robyn
    Nov 11 '20 at 3:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond "Was there really any chance that an atomic bomb would trigger the explosion of the nitrogen in the atmosphere or of the hydrogen in the ocean? This would be the ultimate catastrophe. Better to accept the slavery of the Nazis than to run a chance of drawing the final curtain on mankind!" - Arthur Compton. $\endgroup$ Mar 31 at 10:37
  • $\begingroup$ "It is shown that, whatever the temperature to which a section of the atmosphere may be heated, no self-propagating chain of nuclear reactions is likely to be started. The energy losses to radiation always overcompensate the gains due to the reactions." Edward Teller and Emil Konopinski 1946 fas.org/sgp/othergov/doe/lanl/docs1/00329010.pdf $\endgroup$ Mar 31 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond & AndrewGrimm the discussion between you is between what could've been and what is. Although my statement was meant as what could've been, the discussion is moot. Both viewpoints are valid as they are viewing it in a different light. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Mar 31 at 14:40
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Supers

It turn out that there is a new mutation in Human genome, and it is spreading. The mutation isn't initially noticed, until an accident or a bomb drops. But afterwards it becomes apparent that Humans with this mutation aren't hurt by radiation. Rather, their bodies absorb it and grow stronger as a result.

Maybe their powers are low end; increased strength, toughness, healing, and senses. Everyone effectively becomes Captain (insert country). They can kill a normal person with a single punch punch, but can't throw a car. They can outrun a cheetah, but not a racecar. They only get bruised by small caliber bullets, but larger/faster/AP rounds can still take them out.

Or maybe they get heat vision, or lightning breath, or telepathy. Unique and actually super powers.

Either way, unless they are close enough to the blast to be killed outright by the shock wave or heat, a nuke is going to make them stronger. And probably very angry.

At this point, nukes become a liability. You attack your enemy with a nuke, you may kill a large portion of the populous. But you ultimately make them stronger.

And that's assuming your enemy can control the new supers, and not those people decide to take over. To use the nukes to become more powerful and find more people like them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Unaffected by radiation? They could live anywhere! Without the need for rad shielding, they would be free of this planet! They could use high yield dirty drives, boost to ... Jupiter's moons, or near Mercury, and how could we follow? We'd have to switch to biological warfare to deal with them... and nukes would go the way of the rapier... $\endgroup$
    – chiggsy
    Nov 11 '20 at 19:06
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The world no longer likes it

I recently attended a talk given by one of the members of the Nobel Peace Prize winning campaign The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Dr Margaret Beavis. Dr Beavis mentioned in her talk that the way to abolish the use of Nuclear weapons was to create a stigma around them[1], showing the governments and leaders that 'we do not accept the use of nuclear weapons' - in a similar manner to the way that Landmines are treated now[2].

The theory is, if every locale, then state, then country was to ratify this agreement that "nuclear weapons are bad", then the use of them would be abolished as well; it would fall into disfavour.

You really don't need to way for a doomsday to achieve this outcome, just start now.

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  • $\begingroup$ America has not yet signed the landmine treaty. $\endgroup$ Nov 11 '20 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ The landmine treaty is a very good example. None of the major powers have signed the landmine treaty, it's signed only by those who don't expect to go to an actual war, and everyone who expects to benefit from the use of landmines won't sign. The same applies to nuclear weapons, the countries who expect to benefit from them will want to keep the option of using them - they will, of course, agree that using nuclear weapons is bad and that they should be used only as deterrent in retaliation, and refrain from casual use (as we do now), but simple disfavor isn't enough to give them up fully. $\endgroup$
    – Peteris
    Nov 11 '20 at 20:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThymetheSecond The landmine treaty primarily wasn't signed by the USA because of the Korea conflict. It's argued there is no good alternative to keep the DMZ actually demilitarized as-much-as-possible without them. That's why they'd only comply to the Ottawa treaty with an exception for that area. It was mostly accepted under Obama, but Trump reversed a lot of the restrictions again. So it's lot more complicated than 'not yet signed', really. South Korea never signed it, IIRC. $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Nov 12 '20 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ See for example Reuters Trump eases restrictions on land mine use by U.S. military $\endgroup$
    – Mast
    Nov 12 '20 at 20:24
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Solutions to stockpiling (as opposed to use)

There is a difference in what would cause a nation to decide to either A) commit to not using nuclear weapons, or B) disarm, dismantle and never rearm with nuclear weapons ever again.

Since others have spoken about reasons for scenario A to apply, I'll take scenario B.

Hypothetical new research in your world has uncovered evidence that suggests massive consequences for the storage of nuclear weapons:

New form of 'radiation'

Newly discovered 'epsilon' radiation emanates from parts essential to nuclear weapons, such as the fissile or fusion material itself, even when stored in an unprepared state (to discourage 'bone-yard' stockpiling of materials that can be built into weapons quickly on request). This epsilon radiation has severe long-term consequences that have only now been discovered, and can affect a geographically large area. Pick from: mental health impacts, reproduction potency, cancer viability in the populace, etc (stuff that is damaging to the economy enough that nukes as a last resort aren't economically viable).

Unintended consequences

There are still realms of the world we live in that are still undiscovered (much in the same way that electromagnetic radiation was only discovered in the last howsoever many years). However, in nations that have built nuclear weapons or stockpiled nuclear materials for the purpose of use as weapons there is a pattern. A pattern of severe incidents that affect the leadership of that nation, or the (military) organisation that oversees the nuclear weapon stockpiling/manufacturing. Any causal connection is as of yet unclear, but the pattern is undeniable, and fearing for their lives, the leadership have elected to suffer the possibility of invasion over succumbing to the 'pattern'.

A new counter

A newly discovered form of radiation (hang on, keep reading) that emanates from nuclear material at a great distance has been discovered that has enabled defensive weapons manufacturers to create hard counters to nuclear weapons, rendering them completely ineffective.

A) Radiation facilitates detection during attempts of smuggling to a target or attack via supersonic delivery e.g. ICBM or similar. B) 'Counter-radiation' can be emitted at the radiation source as it gets close to the defending nation, cheaply and accurately, disabling the fissile/fusion material while it is receiving the counter radiation. C) Such detection and disabling devices are cheap and easy to construct relative to their offensive counterparts.

As a consequence, military leaders have given up on nuclear weapons for offensive or defensive purposes due their inability to block the radiation or counter-radiation.

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Everyone had it in WWII, and everyone used it

Another answer referenced the use of gas in WWI. The key reason why gas was banned after WWI was that every single combatant had seen the effects of it, and many non-combatants saw the after-effects on their friends and relatives. Any military thereafter who intended to deploy gas in the years after the war would have faced a mass mutiny, and any government who intended to roll out gas to their military would have faced a landslide defeat starting within their own party. Even the generals had had personal experience of it and did not want to face it again.

This still held true in WWII. Although all sides had substantial stocks, they mostly did not use them because the prospect of retaliation in kind was too horrific to consider.

So why didn't we have the same horror of nuclear weapons? Because it happened elsewhere. To this day, Japan is the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack. As awful as the newsreel footage showed it to be, it simply didn't impinge on the consciousness of anyone else in the world, because it didn't happen to their friends and relatives. There was also a large element of "they deserved it" because of how the Japanese military had treated civilians and POWs.

This leads us to a natural conclusion. Had nuclear research been 5-10 years further ahead at the start of the war, all sides would have had nuclear weapons. And in a total war environment where cities were routinely firebombed by all sides to kill civilians, all sides would have used them. Whatever the outcome of the war, it seems very likely that all survivors would have vowed "never again" in the same way as they did with gas.

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    $\begingroup$ Rogue actors still use gas even on their own people. Even if all major powers agreed never again with nukes, rogue actors will still be game to build and use them. $\endgroup$
    – Anketam
    Nov 11 '20 at 15:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Anketam True - Saddam Hussein as one obvious example. This is the standard problem of assaults on your own citizens being viewed as a purely internal issue though, to be criticised by outside powers but not provoking direct military action. It's hard to see nuclear attacks being viable against internal opposition though, because radioactive fallout doesn't stay put or dissipate cleanly. And for rogue actors who are terrorist groups, they fall outside the OP's question since they aren't "countries". $\endgroup$
    – Graham
    Nov 11 '20 at 17:37
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Christopher Anvil wrote some science fiction short stories that featured a machine called an "asterator". It was supposed to make highly efficient, easy-to-control, safe nuclear power. It worked, but the effect turned out to be impossible to control...

This text is from the story "Doc's Legacy" which can be found in Prescription for Chaos, a collection of Christopher Anvil stories published by Baen Books:


"The asterator has a number of reaction chambers. Each chamber emits a narrow beam. Just as glass is transparent to light, ordinary matter is transparent to the asterator beam. The beams can focus on a common target. In a target containing unstable nuclei, the nuclei decompose."

"The significance of this--?"

"Nuclear weapons and reactors contain a lot of unstable nuclei. If an asterator focuses on them, the weapon or reactor blows up."

Allen nodded. "And the political effect?"

"Not long ago, the major powers had arsenals of nuclear weapons. Then Doc Griswell invented the asterator. Suddenly a nuclear weapon was more dangerous to its possessor than to anyone else. The result was rapid voluntary nuclear disarmament, which is still going on."


The asterator effect travels in a straight line, not attenuated by matter; it could literally travel through the Earth and explode a nuclear warhead or a nuclear fission power plant on the other side of the globe. Once this was discovered, every government realized that nuclear warheads and nuclear fission plants were now too dangerous.

Thus a device intended to make nuclear power safe made it so blackly dangerous that nobody dares to use it.

P.S. I also remember reading some kind of science fiction story where there was some sort of super-powered person who would personally travel around the world destroying nuclear weapons. After a short time, countries began using spies to identify any hidden caches of weapons in other countries, and would send information to this super-powered person so that he/she could destroy the weapons. Thus the only countries that had nukes were countries that had them hidden so well that spies couldn't figure out where they were, and after a while that meant no country had any nukes. I dimly remember that in the book this was called something like "the war of spies" or something like that, but that's all I remember. Hmm, maybe I should ask for a story identification on the science fiction StackExchange.

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All-out nuclear war

The U.S.A. and Russia (or U.S.S.R. if in the past) used hundreds to thousands of nukes on each other, with colossal death, destruction and suffering. Optionally, other nuclear powers were involved, maybe all of them. Optionally, nuclear winter or other very severe worldwide environmental issues followed.

Everyone else was motivated to avoid a repeat.

This requires no magic, and can depart from real history at any point between the 1960's and the near future.

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I am not sure I understand the thrust of your question. Do you still want a socciety that is as hateful and mistrusting as our society, but just without nuclar weapons? Like a return back to the zeitgeist of the early 20th century? Or are you after a society in which nuclear weapons are an unnecessary tool because war itself is not a consideration?

If it is the former, then there will always be newer and better ways for mass destruction, and nuclear weapons will become as obsolete as the cannon. You will not have eliminated the likelihood of humans causing mass genocide, you will simply be changing the method. As long as there are opposing armies, there will always be increasingly more lethal ways to kill.

If your goal is the latter, then the solution rests in a global resource chain. Every country is dependent on other countries for their economic survival. Under such a scenario, the solution is simple - every country simply just stops manucacturing and maintaining nukes, as they are a useless and wasteful expenditure of money and resources. The goal would become economic strength, not military strength. Building military capacity that will in all likelyhood never be used before it is scrapped would become a drag on the economy. 'EDIT' What adds more GDP to the economy, building an air-force-use-only mega airport and facitility, or spending the same money to build a commercial airport that will add to the GDP through increased business and trade?

But THAT would require a change in Western thinking - from a win-lose winner-take-all strategy to a win-win strategy, where winners share the winnings. It all depends on Western governments, if their leadership can stop being paranoid and narcissistic.

However, if you are an American-centric writer, I am sure this is something that is completely inconceiveable to your audience and would never win a large readership base. No conflict, no story. America always has to win and dominate, everyone else has to lose, and you are stuck with SOMEONE having nukes.

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Something is making the bombs either unreliable or unstable.

Imagine if bombs can be disabled over time, or can be forced to explode while in storage. Maybe you've found a way to deliver nanobots to them or some other means to do this and no one has figured it out. Would you spend millions in nuclear warheads that are likely duds or explode suddenly while in storage? Keep in mind these warheads need to be checked, serviced and sometimes replaced, each time they risk getting exposed to your shenanigans.

Alternatively, nukes are expensive to build and need rather intricate methods of delivery. ICBM's arent cheap and things like stealth bombers are complicated weapons as well. Now imagine someone being able to detect radiative sources like that from space and have a cheap and reliable method of intercepting them. Now your expensive nukes arent that useful anymore.

The only way for making nukes obsolete for everyone is to make sure they arent cost-effective or too dangerous for the user. Otherwise you get the same situation as with chemical weapons: some villainous ruling body will claim it as necessary for their nation's superiority, and will use it against any opposition regardless of that opposition being external military or internal civilian strife.

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It's all a simulation after all.

The entire universe really is a simulation being run by an alien species just to see what happens in a universe with our starting assumptions (theirs is, of course, different, with different rules and outcomes). Ours (well, the alternative "ours", anyway) being the most interesting planet it has become the focus of their studies and is monitored intensely.

Up until now, everything has been ticking along as if the universe was around 14 billion years old, as originally planned, but now they have noticed that, flying in the face of all the planted "evidence", some people are still insisting that world (and indeed universe) is only 6,000 years old, so they decide to play along and tweak the parameters of the simulation so that everything that exists really is no more than 6,000 years old. One of the big changes is that fissile materials that were decaying slowly over a multi-billion year period have now reached their current state in a tiny fraction of that time and are decaying furiously, uncontrollably and very unpredictably. Putting great chunks of these materials together in a configuration that is supposed to go bang under certain, now unknown, circumstances, no longer seems such a good idea to anyone.

Solution: dismantle all nukes, spread the fissiles far and wide and spend all your time, energy and money trying to figure out what on "Earth" is going to go wrong next in this aging-accelerated world.

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    $\begingroup$ If I follow correctly, the upshot is that the rate of spontaneous radioactive decay suddenly increases. If the existing nuclear weapons don't go bang immediately, doesn't this just mean that they turn into duds faster? If you have time to dismantle the nukes, you don't need to. $\endgroup$ Nov 11 '20 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie - I'll happily admit to being no scientist, so you may be right; however, the problem is the uncertainty over weapons that are now getting spontaneously hot all by themselves. If that didn't make people start dismantling them, I'm not sure anything else would. With the warhead material becoming much more radioactive all of a sudden, I certainly wouldn't trust the machinery and containers it was in to remain unaffected and secure. And if we assume an alternate Earth in a completely simulated universe, I think a little suspension of scientific veracity is the least of my problems. $\endgroup$
    – Spratty
    Nov 12 '20 at 12:22
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It's never going to happen, for the simple reason that there always has been and always will be people who would do anything for power and these people tend to end up leading countries simply because of their willingness to do anything to get there.

Then, when they're in power in one country, the only way for them to get more power is by increasing the power of their country relative to other countries. And one of the best ways of doing that is to have a greater military might, which makes them able to threaten/bully other countries into obedience.

Having nuclear weapons is a great tool for threatening other countries. If they summon monsters, all the better; that just means more threatening leverage. These people don't give a damn if millions die as long as they get more power. Thus, they would get nukes regardless.

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  • $\begingroup$ 'There is always a bigger jerk' theory. Perhaps. It all depends on which side of the issue the biggest jerk is on. Ruthlessly making sure no one including yourself has nukes is perhaps the best way to guarantee no one can question your power. $\endgroup$ Nov 11 '20 at 15:21
  • $\begingroup$ The problem here is similar to the cryptography problem. Strong crypto is math, so there's no real way to proscribe it. Similarly, everybody knows how to make a nuke, it's an engineering problem. Get a nuke, and your lands will not be invaded, at the very least. Want to gas some dissidents? Go right ahead, regime change is only a problem for non nuclear states. Nuclear proliferation means an end to interventionism, for better or worse. $\endgroup$
    – chiggsy
    Nov 11 '20 at 18:56
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The fuel used in nuclear weapons undergoes a chain reaction. One atom splits and releases high-energy particles, which collide with other atoms and cause them to split, etc etc. This process accelerates in a runaway manner until energy is being released so rapidly that it destroys everything around it.

In your world, these chain reactions are a bit more dangerous. The easily-fissile materials in your world (uranium and friends) have undergone quantum entanglement in a manner your scientists cannot remotely comprehend. During a runaway chain reaction, the extreme energy produced can also cause entangled atoms to split, even at a distance. This entanglement happened long ago in the planet's distant geological past, so uranium samples from opposite sides of the modern world may have been close enough together to become entangled a billion years ago (there's no way to know for sure).

This makes nuclear weapons prohibitively dangerous. If a chain reaction can spread unpredictably to other fissile material at a distance, using a nuclear weapon carries a real threat of accidentally detonating your own nuclear stockpile. Nuking the enemy can result in you nuking yourself or an ally. Not only are nuclear weapons too dangerous to use, they're too dangerous to even have since they could uncontrollably detonate at any moment. The only safe option is to leave the uranium ore where it is, unrefined, so that it's not concentrated enough to start a runaway chain reaction.

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Intervention From a More Advanced Power

This is a classic from cold-war era sci-fi, with perhaps the best know example being 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. The confluence of the development of nuclear arms and space travel triggers an intervention from a previously unknown alien race. The earth has reached a point where the are determined to be a hazard not only to themselves but to the galactic community at large. As such the earth must make a choice: disarm or they will be treated as hostile and dealt with accordingly. The consequences for failing to comply can vary from simple 'containment' where humanity is prevented from leaving the atmosphere to complete eradication.

If you have your story set far enough after the original event takes place, it opens up some interesting potential conflicts. If the aliens simply leave with no further contact, the temptation to backslide will grow with every passing generation. You now have the potential for conflict between those who want to maintain the disarmament and those who want to rebuild the nuclear arsenal out of fear that others may be doing the same.

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Nuclear intercontinental warfare

The human race has destroyed multiple world-leading countries, the goal of the war is lost over time due to the destruction of said nations.

Many are against the continuation of the war and advertise it. This later becomes a religion of sorts that spreads around the globe. They become influential enough to bring about total decommission and discontinuation of weapons of mass destruction in public.

Meanwhile, the nations that kept their weapons were branded as enemies of peace. To rid themselves of this title, they grudgingly agreed to dismantle their WMDs.

The people then formed the Global House, and the Ministry of Duty. The first was the government mass consisting of the council and the protectors, the council passes laws and the protectors enforce them, they do not use force or weapons, they simply outnumber beyond reason. Of course, the protectors are regulated, otherwise...

The Ministry of Duty assigns jobs to the general population. They regulate income, awarding more to those who provide more effort, like working hard on a job or studying for years before to prepare.

All in all, the establishment provides protection to the global population and all are thankful for it. But alas, we are only human.

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I suspect that many countries (or the leaders thereof) would be in favor of global disarmament. The problem of course, is guaranteeing that everyone else complies. If we had an extremely reliable way of ensuring that everyone was complying, I think this would become a much more plausible route. I might consider some kind of radar-like technology that can detect even the beginnings of a nuclear weapon very well.

Any other factors that mitigated one rule breaker from taking advantage of the situation and going nuclear would help. For instance, lasers that could shoot down nukes would probably put everyone's mind further at ease. Cheaper and more easily mass produced blast resistant bunkers would help. The key point is that nuclear weapons are so unbelievably destructive that there almost can't be a nuclear war in the usual sense of the word war - it would be over too quickly. Anything that mitigates that reality would make it more like any other weapon.

Edit: Apparently this wasn't clear and I can't add comments:

My answer is that global disarmament is most likely if you can verify that everyone is complying. In addition, a nation's ability to defend against nuclear weapons would probably ease its fears about giving up its own weapons since it would still have a fighting chance should any other nation violate the disarmament agreement. No individual nation is going to want to be suckered into giving up an irresistible weapon. The first point lessens the odds of being suckered, and the second makes the weapons less irresistible.

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    $\begingroup$ You have just described the weapon race which kept USA and USSR busy until the late 80's, including Reagan's infamous "Star Wars" defensive system. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    Nov 12 '20 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ How does this actually answer the question? The OP is looking for a scenario in which such weapons would be entirely eradicated. Your answer is kind of all over the place without ever actually touching on the OP's topic. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Nov 12 '20 at 14:13

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