Difference Between Chemical Weapons and Nuclear Weapons

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 14, 2022


Difference Between Chemical Weapons and Nuclear Weapons Difference Between Chemical Weapons and Nuclear Weapons

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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) cannot be observed in reality. Even the deadliest explosives and firearms are hazardous, but weapons of mass destruction are in a league of their own. These are unconventional weapons with the catastrophic capacity to eliminate entire cities and nations. There are three distinct categories of WMD: nuclear, biological, and chemical. These three are known collectively by the military acronym NBC.

Although both nuclear and chemical weapons are classified as WMD, they are fundamentally distinct. Chemical weapons, often known as gases, typically inflict suffocation or severe burns, but a nuclear explosion or nuclear weapon may produce a blast within seconds or minutes and activate ionising radiation, resulting in extensive damage. Chemical weapons imperil lives with deadly chemicals, but nuclear weapons risk lives through nuclear fission.

In addition to nuclear and chemical weapons, there are other weapons of mass devastation. Through nuclear fission, nuclear weapons destroy life and structures, whereas chemical weapons kill people with deadly chemicals. Chemical weapons are more devastating and their effects linger longer than nuclear ones. A small number of nations have nuclear weapons, but several nations possess chemical weapons. Only two times have nuclear weapons been used, but chemical weapons have been used many times.

Chemical Weapons vs. Nuclear Weapons

The primary distinction between chemical weapons and nuclear weapons is that chemical weapons known as gases typically suffocate the victim or cause massive burning, while nuclear weapons can cause blasts, thermal radiation, and ionising radiation to cause massive destruction within seconds or minutes of a nuclear explosion.

Even though they are incapable of destroying structures, chemical weapons may be considered lethal. Typically, chemical weapons are employed to destroy life. Chemical warfare has the potential to eradicate whole human civilizations. Chemical weapons are made up of dangerous chemicals that can be sent out in IEDs, mortars, rockets, and other ways.

Nuclear weapons are potentially more dangerous than chemical weapons due to their destructive potential. The lasting effects of nuclear bombs might be measured in days, months, or even millennia. The deployment of a nuclear bomb may destroy a whole city and everything in its vicinity.

Chemical and nuclear weapons are both extremely destructive. The world has witnessed the nuclear inferno unleashed by the bombs of Nagasaki and Hiroshima during World War II. It was the first and final time nuclear bombs were employed in human history. They inflicted tremendous damage to lives and property and brought unimaginable anguish to the populace as a result of decades-long radiation exposure. In the past, only the US, UK, Russia, China, and France had nuclear weapons. Now, however, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are also nuclear powers.

Chemical weapons are weapons that employ poisonous chemicals to cause death and injury to humans. The world has resolved to eliminate chemical weapons, and the process has already begun. Chemical weapons have been in use for decades. The stockpiling of these weapons has been condemned by everyone in the world because they cause unimaginable suffering to the people who use them. Getting rid of them would be a step toward world peace and stability.

Together with biological weapons, nuclear and chemical weapons are known as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Both are lethal in that they cause death and devastation, but nuclear weapons harm and destroy everything in their path, whilst chemical weapons are quiet in nature because they contain toxic chemicals that torment and kill living organisms and flora. On the other hand, nuclear weapons release a lot more energy and cause a lot more damage and deaths.

Since the signing of the partial test ban treaty in 1963, significant progress has been made through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), despite the fact that three new nuclear powers have emerged as a result of the partial nature of these treaties. Still, the world has been able to control and get rid of chemical weapons, which is a big step forward in and of itself.

Difference Between Chemical Weapons and Nuclear Weapons in Tabular Form

Table: Chemical Weapons vs. Nuclear Weapons
Parameter of comparison
Chemical weapons
Nuclear weapons
It utilises chemical agents designed to kill or injure humans.
Its unfavourable pressure is the result of both fission and fusion nuclear processes.
To harm or kill humans, animals, or plants by the use of chemicals.
 A chain reaction involving fission, fusion, or both of atomic nuclei produces an explosive release of energy.
Inhalation, absorption through the skin, or ingestion may influence the circulatory and nervous systems.
Thermal and nuclear radiation have resulted in widespread injuries and fatalities.
Current Stockpiles and Their Owner
Russia possesses 40,000 tonnes, whereas the United States possesses 30,000 tonnes.
9600 for the United States, 9200 for Russia,
Most Hazardous
VX. VX chemical weapons are among the most dangerous and effective nerve agents.
Tsar Bomba, also known as RDS-220, is also known as Big Ivan.

What are Chemical Weapons?

Any harmful chemical capable of inflicting death, injury, incapacitation, or sensory distress that is delivered by a delivery system such as an artillery shell, rocket, or ballistic missile is considered a chemical weapon. Chemical weapons incapacitate, injure, or kill people by poisoning their skin, eyes, lungs, blood, nerves, or other organs.

Chemical weapons are inert, deadly substances that incapacitate, harm, or kill by poisoning the skin, eyes, lungs, blood, nerves, or other organs. Nerves, blisters, choking, and blood vendors are examples. Some chemical warfare agents can be lethal when evaporated and ingested in as little as a few micrograms. Chemical weapons are called "weapons of mass destruction," and it is against international law to use them in a war.

Chemical warfare is the use of the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. NBC is the army acronym for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological warfare or weaponry. This sort of conflict is vastly distinct from organic and nuclear warfare, which are combined to make NBC. None of them are comparable to the era's conventional weapons, which were frequently powerful due to their destructive potential. Chemical warfare no longer requires explosive force to achieve its objectives.


The use of the poisonous qualities of chemical compounds as weapons constitutes chemical warfare. Chemical warfare is separate from nuclear and biological warfare, which collectively include NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (warfare or weapons). These do not qualify as conventional weapons, which are largely effective due to their destructive capacity. The effectiveness of chemical warfare does not depend on explosive force. It relies on the specific features of the weaponized chemical agent.

What is a Nuclear Weapon?

Nuclear weapons pose a higher threat than chemical weapons due to the amount of damage they are capable of causing. A nuclear weapon may destroy everything in its wake, including people and infrastructure. The deployment of a nuclear bomb may demolish an entire city and everything in its vicinity.

A nuclear weapon is sometimes referred to as an atomic bomb, atom bomb, nuclear bomb, nuke, or A-bomb. It is a very explosive gadget that derives its negative pressure from nuclear processes. It consists of both fission (or fission bomb) and fusion (or nuclear bomb) processes.Both kinds of nuclear weapons make a lot of energy from a very small amount of explosive material.

One of the most important tasks in the production of nuclear weapons is ensuring that a large percentage of the gas is consumed before the device detonates. The energy emitted by nuclear fission bombs can range from less than one kilogramme to more than five hundred thousand kilogrammes. As a result of nuclear fission, nuclear weapons are capable of causing enormous explosions. The repercussions of nuclear explosions might extend for days, months, or even millennia.

The Health Effects of Nuclear Explosions

Some scientists believe that a nuclear war with 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear blasts on cities might result in the deaths of tens of millions of people due to the long-term impacts on the climate alone. According to the climatology theory, if each city experienced a firestorm, a huge amount of soot would be emitted into the atmosphere, which might coat the world, obstructing sunlight for years and disrupting food chains in what is known as a nuclear winter.

People who lived through the Hiroshima bombing and were close to it had a wide range of health problems.

Initial stage: The first 1–9 weeks, when the most people die. 90% of these deaths are caused by thermal damage and/or blast effects, and 10% are caused by exposure to superlethal radiation.

Intermediate stage-between 10 and 12 weeks The median lethal dose (LD50) of ionising radiation is responsible for these deaths.

late menstrual cycle, spanning 13 to 20 weeks. During this era, the condition of the survivors has improved.

Delay in period—from 20 weeks or more. It is accompanied by infertility, sub-fertility, and blood abnormalities if the patient was exposed to several hundred to one thousand millisieverts of radiation. Also, ionising radiation above a dose of 50–100 millisieverts has been shown to statistically increase the risk of dying from cancer over the normal unexposed rate of 25%. In the long term, a higher rate of cancer, proportional to the dose received, would be seen after 5 years or more, along with other minor problems like eye cataracts and other effects on other organs and tissues.

Main Differences Between Chemical and Nuclear Weapons in Points

  • Chemical weapons are weapons that use chemicals. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, are explosives whose destructive power comes from nuclear reactions.
  • Chemical weapons can hurt the nervous and circulatory systems, as well as the lungs, if they are inhaled, absorbed through the skin, or eaten. Nuclear weapons, on the other hand, cause many injuries and deaths because of nuclear and thermal radiation, cancer, and birth defects caused by radioactive fallout and contamination.
  • There are many examples of chemical weapons being used, and it is also known that nuclear weapons have been used.
  • In the last quarter-century, chemical disarmament has progressed by leaps and bounds, but nuclear disarmament has stagnated. Chemical weapons are less hazardous and more tightly regulated than nuclear weapons.
  • Chemical weapons are some of the most dangerous and effective nerve agents that humans have ever made, but nuclear weapons are a bigger threat because they can do more damage.

Who possesses nuclear and chemical arms?

Initially, only the United States and the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons stockpiles. The United Kingdom, France, and China followed the United States and the Soviet Union in the development of nuclear weapons. Subsequently, India and Pakistan also acquired nuclear weapons, causing widespread political upheaval on a worldwide scale. India and Pakistan are, as everyone knows, the fiercest of adversaries.

Israel and North Korea are also rumoured to possess nuclear weapons, but none of these nations has confessed to possessing nuclear arsenals. In the 1980s, South Africa also made nuclear weapons, but it was the first country to publicly destroy all of its nuclear weapons.

People call chemical weapons "the poor man's nuclear weapons," and many countries have made them.In addition to the world's largest and most influential nations, smaller nations in Asia, Europe, and Africa also possess these weapons. India and Germany are two nations that have reportedly eliminated all chemical weapons.

Nuclear and chemical weapons use

There have been just two nuclear weapons tests. "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, while "Fat Man" was dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. It was anticipated that these two attacks would result in over 200,000 deaths. Worse yet, a number of Japanese generations suffered as a result of the long-range radiation consequences of these two bombs.

The first use of chemical weapons occurred during World War I. France was the first nation known to have utilised dianisidine chlorosulfate-containing bombs. In the 1980s, Iraq employed chemical weapons against Iran. In 1988, Saddam Hussein authorised the deployment of chemical weapons against the Kurds of Halabja. In 1994, sarin gas was deployed in a residential community in Matsumoto, and the following year, it was used in the Tokyo subway.

Cessation of usage

Throughout the years, several accords have been signed to prohibit the use of nuclear and chemical weapons. It began with the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963. Subsequently, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty were also ratified.


Chemical and nuclear bombs are both mass devastation weapons. Nuclear weapons are created through nuclear fission and destroy lives, whereas chemical weapons utilise poisonous chemicals to kill a large number of people. Nuclear weapons are more destructive than chemical weapons, and the harm they produce is permanent.

The use and possession of chemical weapons are illegal under international law. Despite a prevailing norm against the use of chemical weapons and international attempts to destroy existing stockpiles, some nations continue to maintain active chemical weapons programmes.

Some countries are in possession of nuclear weapons, although numerous nations possess chemical weapons. Even though chemical weapons have been used more than once, only nuclear weapons are taken into account.


  • https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/01440388708403868
  • http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2008/282/


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"Difference Between Chemical Weapons and Nuclear Weapons." Diffzy.com, 2022. Sun. 02 Oct. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-chemical-weapons-and-nuclear-weapons-1020>.

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