Nuclear warfare (sometimes atomic warfare or thermonuclear warfare), is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is used to inflict damage on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage, and in a much shorter time scale. A major nuclear exchange could have severe long-term effects, primarily from radiation release, but also from the production of high levels of atmospheric pollution leading to a "nuclear winter" that could last for decades, centuries, or even millennia after the initial attack. A large nuclear war is considered to bear existential risk for civilization on Earth. Only two nuclear weapons have been used in the course of warfare, both by the United States near the end of World War II. On August 6, 1945, a uranium gun-type device (code name "Little Boy") was detonated over the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Contributions by Fastfission, Bryan Derksen, and Mr. Billion.