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Područje politike
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Understanding nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles

28-09-2017

Nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles need to be understood if the risks and challenges they entail are to be grasped. This understanding starts with two processes discovered in the last century – nuclear fission and nuclear fusion – that have the ability to release a significant quantity of energy from a very limited amount of matter. On the one hand, these reactions can be used to produce energy. Controlled nuclear fission is the process on which nuclear power plants are based. Nuclear fusion, ...

Nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles need to be understood if the risks and challenges they entail are to be grasped. This understanding starts with two processes discovered in the last century – nuclear fission and nuclear fusion – that have the ability to release a significant quantity of energy from a very limited amount of matter. On the one hand, these reactions can be used to produce energy. Controlled nuclear fission is the process on which nuclear power plants are based. Nuclear fusion, meanwhile, requires the ability to control a reaction that occurs at temperatures of millions of degrees. The control of nuclear fusion for energy production is the objective of the ITER project. On the other hand, uncontrolled nuclear fission and fusion reactions can be used to design nuclear weapons whose destructive power is far greater than traditional weapons. The first atomic bombs were produced and used during World War Two and based on nuclear fission. Since then, the design of nuclear weapons has been modified to include nuclear fusion reactions, leading to a sharp increase in the yield of nuclear bombs. The development of nuclear weapons requires mastery of technologies for the production of nuclear fuels (enriched uranium and plutonium), making access to these weapons limited. Advances in the production and design of nuclear weapons have made them smaller and suitable for mounting in the warheads of ballistic missiles. These missiles, whose functioning is similar to space rockets, can deliver their charge at a very long range (up to 15 000 km for intercontinental ballistic missiles).

Nuclear Proliferation in North East Asia

23-03-2017

The nuclear dimension of the crisis in the Korean peninsula has been compounded since the end of the Cold war, particularly since the North Korean regime announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in January 2003. The nuclear and ballistic programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have dangerously improved since the beginning of the decade and seem to have accelerated since 2014 in spite of the continuous strengthening of the international sanctions ...

The nuclear dimension of the crisis in the Korean peninsula has been compounded since the end of the Cold war, particularly since the North Korean regime announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in January 2003. The nuclear and ballistic programmes of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) have dangerously improved since the beginning of the decade and seem to have accelerated since 2014 in spite of the continuous strengthening of the international sanctions regime against Pyongyang’s Weapons of Mass Destruction programmes. Accordingly, tensions have risen dramatically in the Korean peninsula. In the current context, the resumption of the six-party talks – deadlocked since the spring of 2007 - remains very hypothetical. It is clearly dependent on a change of attitude on Pyongyang’s part, something hardly predictable. Even if ‘strategic patience’ towards North Korea has been challenged for some time, it may be that there is no better alternative to this policy. Comprehensively conceived, it should be understood as a strong policy of containment of the North Korean nuclear crisis in order to make possible the return of Pyongyang to negotiations. As a subsidiary issue, it could be asked whether the EU could play a renewed role as regards to nuclear and ballistic proliferation in North East Asia.

Vanjski autor

Benjamin HAUTECOUVERTURE (Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique - FRS, Paris, France)

Reproaches Follow North Korea's 'Successful' Launch of a Dysfunctional Satellite

07-01-2013

The launch followed an unsuccessful attempt to propel the same sort of satellite into orbit in April. Many foreign governments consider the exercise a test of the country's ability to launch long-range missiles. The country has gradually increased the range of its missiles. The UN has called on North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile system. North Korea's technology is mostly borrowed and largely outdated. The satellite launched into orbit appears to outside observers not to be functional... ...

The launch followed an unsuccessful attempt to propel the same sort of satellite into orbit in April. Many foreign governments consider the exercise a test of the country's ability to launch long-range missiles. The country has gradually increased the range of its missiles. The UN has called on North Korea to suspend its ballistic missile system. North Korea's technology is mostly borrowed and largely outdated. The satellite launched into orbit appears to outside observers not to be functional... at least for now. Pyongyang may have felt political and social pressures - in addition to military ones - to launch the rocket. The UN Security Council and various countries condemned the move. Even China expressed 'regret'. This does not mean, however, that Pyongyang will be harshly punished by Beijing, its principal ally and trading partner. But the deeper worry abroad may be the possibility of a burgeoning Asian arms race.

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