Nuclear weapons pathfinder


The Nuclear Weapon Archive
Don’t be fooled by the homemade HTML appearance of the website; this is a case of substance over style. While it lacks any formal institutional connection, this site offers a comprehensive overview of practically every facet of the nuclear issue. Among the areas covered are the past and present capabilities of all declared and aspiring nuclear states, the scientific underpinnings of nuclear technology, and the history of nuclear weapons development. What it may lack in academic credentials, the site makes up for by being extensively referenced, supporting each point with links to peer-reviewed academic sources and government publications. Journalists on a deadline will appreciate the thorough FAQ.

Nuclear Files
Operated by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, this website covers just about every imaginable angle of the nuclear issue. Sections include a timeline (from the discovery of nuclear energy to the present), detailed summaries of all the key issues, and a library that includes biographies, a media gallery, and links to external resources. The is well referenced and attributes all of its claims to verifiable journal articles and government documents. The layout and interface are easy to use, and the site is generally very accessible.

Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Another highly useful site that includes recent developments in each of the key issues of nuclear policy. The site index includes sections on nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons, military budget, missile defence, non-proliferation, and terrorism. Within each of these sections, users may find articles written in response to developments in nuclear policy. These usually take the form of responses to budget announcements or statements by key military personnel. The site is highly useful in gaining a quick understanding of the most current developments in nuclear politics.


Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
This UN site contains the complete text of the treaty, its ratification status and history, an overview of the arms control process, and a chronology of key events. An excellent point of entry for journalists seeking quick information about the NPT and its history. All of the developments arising from past review conferences are noted, and there is a highly useful link to the UN’s list of multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements. Additional information includes a section on the role of the IAEA in the review process.

NPT Review Conference 2005
Hosted by the United Nations, this site summarizes the events of the 2005 NPT Review Conference. By including the developments from the most recent review conference, the site supplements the information detailed above and offers an up-to-date perspective on the issue. In addition, the site contains links to other UN resources on the issue of disarmament.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Another UN-sponsored site that summarizes the issues relating to the CTBT and describes its current status. Among the information included is the full text of the treaty and summaries of the most recent conferences on facilitating its entry into force. Also included are statements by the UN Secretary-General on the treaty, as well as links to other UN sites relating to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

US/Russian bilateral arms control agreements (ABM Treaty, SALT, INF Treaty, START, SORT, etc.)
This highly useful site summarizes all bilateral treaties between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russia from 1969 to the present. It contains links to government documents and primary sources relating to each treaty to offer a good overview of the issues and processes underlying the creation of these agreements. In addition to covering the major treaties, a wide range of lesser known agreements are also included. The site offers journalists a concise summary of the Cold War arms control process.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
This is the official website of the United Nations’ nuclear regulatory agency, the IAEA. As one might expect of an important UN agency, the IAEA maintains a well organized and informative site that includes news briefs alongside background information that helps to put the issues in context. The “About IAEA” section includes a detailed overview of the organization’s history and mandate, while “Our Work” links to current IAEA projects. The “Publications” section links to a variety of reports, reviews, articles, and journal documents that supplement the information presented on the website.

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission – International Activities
This site is run by the Government of Canada’s Nuclear Safety Commission and outlines the key points of Canadian policy relating to nuclear non-proliferation. Specifically, it explains the Canadian stance on the import and export of nuclear materials and the extent to which such activities must conform to NPT guidelines and IAEA standards. The sidebar includes links to information relating to Canada’s bilateral co-operation in nuclear safety, as well as information on safeguards and import and export licensing.


World Special Weapons Guide
This site lists the nuclear capabilities of each of the eight declared nuclear states and provides detailed information on each country’s program. Ignore the advertising and focus on the incredibly deep and detailed content that is offered under each section. Each nuclear state’s program is dissected, right down to the particulars of the various weapons systems employed. Detailed histories are provided for almost every type of missile, warhead, plane, etc.

50 Facts About US Nuclear Weapons
This website is maintained by The Brookings Institution and provides a quick summary of useful data and facts relating to the US nuclear program. It is well referenced and lists its sources, which are all academic or military in nature. The information ranges from the total number of nuclear missiles built by the US (1951-present) to the total mass of plutonium still deployed in nuclear weapons. Very useful for journalists looking to inject interesting facts into their stories. Also, the sidebar is filled with links to policy briefs and news updates on Iran, North Korea, and other pressing issues of nuclear policy.

Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces
This highly informative site is produced by The Russian Nuclear Forces Project, which was founded in 1991 by a group of Russian scientists at the Center for Arms Control Studies. The site contains summaries of Russian nuclear capabilities and infrastructure, and offers both a general summary and more highly specialized technical details. While much information exists on the various weapons systems of the Soviet Union, current information about Russian weapons is harder to come by. As such, this site is a boon for journalists looking for insight into the capabilities of Russia’s nuclear forces.

The Nuclear Information Project
Produced in collaboration with the Federation of American Scientists, this website offers an excellent archive of current information on US, Russian, Chinese, and North Korean nuclear weapons programs. This is an excellent source for up-to-date news on nuclear issues as well as detailed scholarly analysis. The “In the News” section contains direct links to news articles from around the world. In the “Publications” section, a similarly impressive range of reports and journal articles are linked to in pdf format.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
This is the regular publication of the association that maintains the infamous “Doomsday Clock.” In addition to regularly updated news briefs and features, the site offers a comprehensive review of the nuclear programs of all declared and aspiring nuclear states. The Bulletin also publishes scholarly research in the field and provides reviews of the nuclear posture of each state. The “Nuclear Weapons Data” section is particularly useful for journalists looking for detailed facts about each country’s programs and weapons systems.

Federation of American Scientists (FAS)
Another website maintained by a professional organization of concerned physicists. The site contains extensive information relating to many defence issues, but the sections on nuclear weapons are by far the most extensive. The ‘Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century’ section of the website offers a comprehensive overview of key issues and is especially useful for discussion of American policy. FAS acts as a monitoring body of sorts and claims to keep track of the ongoing debate over resuming US nuclear testing as well as gaining access to obscure Congressional reports.


Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) [now defunct]
This is an official US government site hosted by the State Department. It contains the entire text of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and all subsequent supplementary protocols and memorandums. While much of the material consists of dense text, it nevertheless represents the entirety of an important document in US-Russian bilateral relations. Also included are summaries of the ABM Treaty review sessions that took place every five years until the treaty’s cancellation in 2001.

Announcement of Withdrawal from the ABM Treaty
This is the text of the official White House statement summarizing the US withdrawal from the ABM Treaty in 2001. While it is plagued by somewhat vague language, it nevertheless represents an important resource to be consulted when writing about ballistic missile defence policies. The document sheds some light on the motivations for the US withdrawal and attempts to outline the direction that US policy would take after the treaty’s end. Journalists may find it useful to compare this statement with the realities of US BMD policy in the intervening years.

Missile Defense Agency
This is the website of the official US government agency overseeing the development of BMD systems. Among the information hosted on the site is a thorough overview of the proposed missile defence system, as well as a series of links to budgetary data and environmental implications. The site is regularly updated with news briefs on BMD tests and developments in the program. The “BMD Basics” section attempts to outline the principles underlying each phase of ballistic missile defence and address some of the common criticisms that have been directed at the program.

This site is funded by The Claremont Institute and falls in the pro-BMD camp, attempting to argue for the necessity of the program currently under development. In addition to the usual assortment of news clippings, the site also includes a database of offensive ballistic missiles throughout the world to highlight the potential threat. “The Threat” section, in particular, spells out the perceived danger to American interests arising from missiles. Also included is an overview of the mechanics of BMD.

FAS missile defense site
The Federation of American Scientists’ resource page for BMD. This site covers everything from technical details of the systems under development to policy documents to resources relating to the ABM Treaty. Although some of the policy briefs are dated, the information is still highly relevant to the ongoing debate over the utility and effectiveness of BMD systems.

Centre for Research and Information on Canada BMD resource page
This is a Canadian perspective on the missile defence debate. The site offers a general overview of the program being pursued by the United States and touches on the key points of the debate. However, it then goes on to provide a good summary of Canada’s role in the BMD debate and discuss past and present Canadian policy approaches to similar systems. Considering the ongoing pressure on Canada to participate in the US program, this site is highly useful in offering journalists a quick point of reference to summarize the issue and discuss the Canadian point of view.


“The Effects of Nuclear Weapons” by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan
This Princeton-hosted site offers a complete pdf version of a book by Samuel Glasstone and Philip J. Dolan on the subject of nuclear weapon effects. The book is presented in its entirety and is indexed by chapter for quick and easy reference. Glasstone and Dolan’s book is considered to be one of the best works on the subject of nuclear weapon effects, and it describes every aspect of the issue in great detail. The fact that it is available online in such a well-indexed form should be highly useful to journalists seeking to understand the physical and medical implications of nuclear weapons use.

Effects of Nuclear Weapons
This website summarizes the effects of nuclear weapons in a concise and clear manner, breaking the subject down into manageable subject headings. While the Glasstone and Dolan book listed above offers a thorough, scholarly view into the subject, this site is far more accessible and is best for those in need of quick facts. The subject headings included are: blast effects, thermal effects, radiation effects, and long-term effects. Each section includes an easily accessible description of the primary effects along with illustrations and diagrams for further emphasis.

Nuclear Weapon Effects Calculator
This intriguing site is maintained by the Federation of American Scientists and offers the ability to determine approximate damages to a range of US cities. While it is perhaps a little on the grim side, this tool nevertheless allows journalists writing on the effects of nuclear weapons to offer convenient points of reference and comparison when discussing damages. A variety of topographic maps of major US cities are provided, and users may select the weapon yield and delivery method to estimate the range of damage inflicted.

National Nuclear Safety Administration Historical Test Films
This site is run by the United States Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Safety Administration. It contains film footage of historical nuclear tests, dating back to the dawn of the US nuclear program. By offering a visual complement to the descriptions outlined above, it may be highly useful to journalists seeking to fully grasp the effects of nuclear weapons.