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The Contender
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Biological Proliferation is a greater threat than Nuclear Proliferation.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/10/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,907 times Debate No: 36543
Debate Rounds (4)
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Resolved: Proliferation of biological weapons is a greater threat to the United States than proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In this debate, I shall be taking the affirmative side of the resolution, saying that Biological Proliferation is indeed a greater threat than Nuclear Proliferation.

Just to clarify things before we begin, I have provided the following definitions:

  • Nuclear Weapons: Bomb or other warhead that derives its force from Nuclear Fission, Nuclear Fusion, or both and is delivered by an aircraft, missile, or other system. [1]

  • Biological Weapons: a harmful biological agent (as a pathogenic microorganism or a neurotoxin) used as a weapon to cause death or disease usually on a large scale. [2]

  • Proliferation: To rapidly increase in number as if by proliferating. [3]

Now that I have cleared these definitions, I shall move on to laying out my four main arguments:

1) Biological Weapons are far more unpredictable than Nuclear Weapons.

The effect of Nuclear Weapons are very localized. Nuclear Weapons have only been used in war times twice, by the United States in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, Japan. In both situations, the effects of the bomb occurred only WITHIN the range of the two cities they were aimed at, not outside.

Nuclear weapons can be controlled in this way and their locations can be pinpointed, as in you can be very sure that the effects of a Nuclear detonation will not stretch further out than within the calculated radius.

However, biological weapons cannot be controlled in this way. They happen to have a potential to spread further than anticipated, creating more devastation than ever necessary in the first place. No one can control bioweapons once they are released.

2) Biological Weapons cause more fatalities than Nuclear Weapons.

When the United States used Nuclear Weapons in Hiroshima, the number of casualties, consisting of minor/major injuries and deaths, was only 90,000 to 120,000 out of their population of around 300,000. [4] Keep in mind, not all 120,000 of those casualties are deaths.

On the other hand, biological weapons have the strength to kill off a major fraction of the population, and not in a quick, one-time process. Biological weapons can be extremely harmful and fatal on a much larger scale than nuclear weapons.

One well-known biological weapon is called Botulinum Neurotoxin, which is a toxin that can cause paralysis and eventual but sure death. It can be spread in three main ways; Foodborne, Infant and Wound:

  • Foodborne botulism is when the toxins contaminate a population’s food. The process is obvious, the individual who eats the contaminated food would get contaminated as well, and it would eventually lead to sickness and a fatal death.

  • Infant botulism occurs when an infant consumes the spores of the botulinum bacteria. The bacteria then grow in the intestines and release the neurotoxin.

  • Wound botulism is caused by neurotoxin produced from a wound that is infected with the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

A small amount of toxin capable of killing humans has made the toxin a candidate for use in weapons for biowarfare and bioterrorism. All forms of botulism can be fatal and are considered medical emergencies. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating even small amounts of neurotoxin-contaminated food. [5]

It is estimated that 1 gram of toxin could kill 10 million people. [6]

Just think about it, only 120,000 deaths (nuclear weapons) versus 10 million (biological weapons).

There is a VERY large difference- of nearly 9,880,000 lives that can be saved due to choice of weapons.

3) Nuclear Weapons have an immediate effect, while Bioweapons have an ongoing effect.

Once a Nuclear Weapon has been detonated, there will be instant devastation- this is true. In neither situation can devastation be avoided. But the level of devastation is something worth thinking about. Biological weapons, unlike Nuclear, cause ongoing destruction and devastation. The physical detonation of nukes only affected in the moment. By December, only about 4 months after the bombing of Hiroshima, no more deaths or fatalities were reported. After the bombing in August, the city was rebuilt- slowly, but surely. In the end, people could resume their normal lives in the city.

In contrast, biological weapons’ effects ring long after the event takes place. In some cases, the toxin takes time to reach the individuals, and after that the specific illness takes a long time to turn to death, all depending on the individual situations. Also, things like food contamination do not go away so soon. It will take years for the toxin to disappear for good.

4) Biological Weapons are much cheaper than Nuclear Weapons, therefore easier to acquire and use.

In one analysis, the comparative cost of civilian (unprotected) casualties is "$2,000 per square kilometer with conventional weapons, $800 with nuclear weapons, $600 with nerve-gas weapons, and $1 with biological weapons." Not surprisingly, biological weapons have long since become known as the poor man's atom bomb.[6] If nuclear weapons are so expensive, and biological weapons so cheap, then it is naturally logical that nations would favor the use of biological weapons over nuclear, because it’s obvious that governments would be keen on buying weapons that are cheap, so to make a smaller impact on their economy.


Biological weapons are more harmful AND cheap, making them a more favorable weapon to be used in wars. This proves that nuclear weapons are not as much of a threat as biological weapons, since they are not easily favored.








I wish Con the best of luck.


I thank the pro for beginning this debate, and wish them luck in the coming debate.

I will be taking the Negative side of this resolution, meaning I will argue that Nuclear weapons pose much more of a threat than Biological and Chemical weapons.

I accept the Pro’s definitions and now will lead into my arguments.

1. Nuclear weapons provide Environmental danger that Biological Weapons do not.

Scientist Richard Turco stated that the effects of a nuclear weapon would be "much greater than what we're talking about with global warming and anything that's happened in history with regards volcanic eruptions"(1). This means that if a Nuclear Weapon went off, it would cause such extreme environmental that it would be equal or greater than a Volcano going off right where it lands. But that is only the Initial Explosion. When a Nuclear Weapon goes off, it does much more than just a big bang. According to an Anti-Nuclear Weapon activist site, a Nuclear weapon causes a Fireball that covers 105-170 km, this will ignite any Forests, many houses, plants, etc.(2) The effect of the fireball would cause a massive production of Greenhouse gases, and will leave a permanent scar on the area it erupts by destroying an entire habitat.

2. Nuclear weapons have evolved from the days of WWII, and now pose more threat.

As physics has progressed so have nuclear technology, and the technology of Rockets. The Weapons of WWII are dwarfed in size and danger of modern Nuclear weapons, in fact Russian ‘Super-Bomb’ Tsar Bomba is nearly 100x more dangerous the the Little-Boy bomb that was dropped in Japan in WWII(3). This means that if Nuclear weapons keep getting more dangerous at this rate, in 50 years, one bomb would be able to cause a worldwide nuclear fallout.

3. There are more nations that are in danger of using Nuclear Weapons that have not signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, than there are Nations that are in danger of using Chemical weapons, that have not signed the corresponding Treaties.

Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are all nations that are in danger of using Nuclear weapons, political analyst David Packman says(4). There are 4 of the 5 nations not included in the NPT. While Syria and North Korea are the only nations that have not signed the Chemical Weapons Proliferation document at the UN(5).

In Conclusion, Nuclear Weapons pose a much higher threat do to the effect they have on the environment, their constantly increasing power, and the fact that more nations are in danger of using Nuclear Weapons.






Debate Round No. 1


In this round, I shall be refuting my opponent’s arguments.

(Note: In bold are my opponent’s arguments, and underneath are my refutations.)

Before I get to my refutations though, I would like to point out that nowhere in the resolution that we are debating does it mention Chemical Weapons. Therefore, I will not be paying any attention to any comments regarding Chemical Weapons made by my opponent.


1. Nuclear weapons provide Environmental danger that Biological Weapons do not.

I’ll refute this point by saying Bioweapons provide a larger environmental danger than nuclear.

My opponent says that “a Nuclear weapon causes a Fireball that covers 105-170 km, this will ignite any Forests, many houses, plants, etc.” I agree with this, but it is not that big of a danger as what Bioweapons can bring. For example, the forests and plants that are burned by the fireball can be grown again. Through nature’s path, it is almost guaranteed that where something has been burned down, new ecosystems and such will grow again. As the matter of houses/cities, those can also be rebuilt- just as Hiroshima and Nagasaki were rebuilt in time.

In the case of bioweapons, the danger is far more explicit. Some governments have developed biological agents for use against illicit crops (such as opium poppy) in Afghanistan and Colombia. There is a great potential for the biological agent to infect other non-target species, because the biological agents are designed to be applied on a large scale- more than 100,000 hectares. A spillover effect on non-target species of plants or animals would be a serious threat to biodiversity. Other than crops, a bio-terrorist attack on livestock would have a terrifying effect on that nation’s agricultural industry in terms of economic loss. Moreover, it could have harmful spill-over effects on other susceptible wildlife species: introduced diseases affecting domesticated animals or humans could be particularly harmful for native species that are naturally rare, and species whose numbers have been depleted due to habitat degradation. [1] Livestock and crops, once infected with bioweapons, cannot be “regrown” or “fixed” because the diseases go deep into their systems, and kill the crops/livestock internally.

2. Nuclear weapons have evolved from the days of WWII, and now pose more threat.

Around 65 years have passed since WW2 ended, and Nuclear weapons have evolved- this is true. But along with Nuclear Weapons, Bioweapons have also evolved. Scientists have been researching and developing bioweapons for use in wars since World War 2. [2] In the years since bioweapons have been seen in effect, naturally, scientists have been developing them so that they can target specific areas; making them more dangerous than they initially were. Even if the “new and improved” nuclear bomb that my opponent mentioned is 100x stronger than the one dropped in Japan, the casualty rates would go up to 1 million, maybe 2 million deaths. On the other hand, biological weapons are causing an estimated 10 million deaths (as shown in my second argument in Round 1 of this debate.)

3. There are more nations that are in danger of using Nuclear Weapons that have not signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, than there are Nations that are in danger of using Chemical weapons, that have not signed the corresponding Treaties.

My opponent's third argument is slightly unclear to me. If he could, it would be great for Con to re-summarize this argument. Thank you.






In this round I will be laying out my rebuttals to the Pro’s first arguments.

1 Biological Weapons are far more unpredictable than nuclear weapons.

First I am going to talk about the Pro’s evidence on this point. The Pro used an anecdote about WWII and the bombs dropped on Japan, to display the Pro’s point on how nuclear weapons have the ability to be easily contained. There are three major factors the Pro did not include that prove nuclear weapons have a far more chaotic and unpredictable nature than the Pro described. First, the Pro only focused on the effect of the initial explosion into the “Harms” that the bomb causes. The fact is nuclear bombs, when exploded cause massive amounts of radiation that can spread very widely and in a very unpredictable manner. The second issue is with the anecdote, the bombs dropped on Japan high over the cities, so that there would not be massive spread of fallout into the air. This caused the bombs to have a much more contained effect, but if the bombs were dropped on the ground, it would be very, very unpredictable. Finally the bombs were far smaller and far less powerful than the current nuclear weapons, as I showed in my second point, and the newer bombs have far more potentially for wide-spread, uncontrolled destruction.

Along with the primary issues set forward at the start of the Pro’s point, the pro also had some logical errors in this argument. The first is the fact that the pro said “...have the potential to spread further than anticipated...” The fact of the matter is, nuclear weapons also have that potential, and if we try to contain the effects of a biological weapon to, lets say, Portland, then it will primarily remain in the Portland area. The Major times a biological agent has been released on a civilian mass, it has been uncontrolled, on purpose. During the Iran-Iraq war, both parties used Weapons of Mass Destruction, in the form of Chemical agents, to kill off the other side in a sweeping blow, instead of a precise attack upon the other party(1). Now if both parties in this war tried to be precise, then the effects of the weapons would not of been as unpredictable.

2 Biological Weapons cause more fatalities than Nuclear Weapons.

The issue with this point lies in its reliance on non-reactionary movement. With a nuclear bomb, you do not have the ability to deal with the effects, because of the fact that the majority of the people affected are either, immediately dead, or are highly likely to develop cancer. While with the Food born Chemical Weapon Botulinum, the party affected has the ability to contain and remove the infected food from the population, much like they would do with a salmonella outbreak in eggs.

Secondly the evidence the Pro brought up with the amounts of deaths from Nuclear Weapons compared to Biological and Chemical weapons is flawed. The statistic is based off of estimated danger of a modern neuro-toxin, comparing it to the effect of a bomb used more than 60 years ago. The fact is, this statistic is comparing apples and oranges, and is fundamentally flawed.

3 Nuclear Weapons have an immediate effect, while Bio weapons have an ongoing effect.

As I have previously stated, Nuclear weapons have a long term effect on the environment, and also have the potential to cause cancer or many other long term diseases in the victims of Nuclear Weapons.

4 BBiological Weapons are much cheaper than Nuclear Weapons, therefore easier to acquire and use.

I will agree with the Pro on the fact that Biological weapons are easier to cheaper and easier to acquire than Nuclear weapons. But as the resolution states, “Proliferation of biological weapons is a greater threat to the United States than proliferation of nuclear weapons.” Biological weapons, are used domestically, not internationally, while Nuclear Weapons are used internationally. The way these two different WMD’s are used, nullifies the point completely.
Debate Round No. 2


ssovoxolove forfeited this round.


ComradeTrotsky forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


ssovoxolove forfeited this round.


ComradeTrotsky forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by dzownzer 4 years ago
Well, I'm waiting for round 2, but it seems to be off to a good start. I do have some pointers I'd be willing to offer to both PRO and CON for their debate (message me). It seems pretty good, but my only concern is that both PRO and CON aren't offering very reputable sources (though I do see some .gov sights and good newspaper articles). Though PRO, your definition of proliferation doesn't do much to tell the judge/audience the meaning/relevance to the debate.

Remember, public forum (yes I see what this topic is for!) is as if you take a random person off the street and use them as your judge.
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