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With the end of the Cold War, the sense of imminent danger from nuclear weapons quickly faded. But the weapons never went away: Today, half the world's population lives in countries with nuclear weapons. Roughly 15,000 nuclear warheads, each powerful enough to destroy a city, are in the hands of nine countries.
The most important international treaty on nuclear weapons states that only five countries can ‘legally’ have them. But over the last 50 years, eight other countries have come into their posession, four of which are established nuclear powers today. How did that happen?
Moreover, nuclear tests of different kinds are banned by a multitude of international treaties. An impressive global measurement network of hundreds of seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide measurement stations has been set up to detect nuclear tests. However, a treaty to finally ban all sorts of nuclear explosions, signed by 183 countries, is on the brink of failing. What is up with that?
This talk aims to provide a broad physical, technical and historical overview of the topic of nuclear weapons, and explain where international politics and verification technology stand today.