Posted on February 8, 2019
Nuclear and non-nuclear weapons have never been entirely separate from each other.
The B-29 bomber, for example, was designed and built to deliver conventional bombs. But on 6 August 1945 one of these aircraft, Enola Gay, dropped a nuclear weapon on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Seventy-four years later, nine countries now possess thousands of nuclear weapons, which are becoming increasingly entangled with non-nuclear weapons.
The global stockpile of nuclear weapons is down from an all-time high of about 64,000 in 1986 – but some contemporary weapons are about 300 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Apart from the UK, all nuclear-armed states possess dual-use weapons that can be used to deliver nuclear or conventional warheads.
These include missiles of ever-longer ranges.
Russia, for example, has recently deployed a new ground-launched cruise missile, the 9M729.
The US believes this missile is dual-use and has been tested to distances “well over” 500km (310 miles).
The missile is at the heart of US claims Russia breached the terms of a treaty banning the use of medium- and intermediate-range missiles.
The US has announced its withdrawal from the pact, raising concerns about a new arms race.
China, meanwhile, has recently been showing off its newest missile, the DF-26.
Capable of travelling more than 2,500km (1,553 miles), it appears to be the world’s longest range dual-use missile capable of a precision strike.