Rudolf Peierls, 5 March 1981
Nuclear weapons, and the knowledge of the horrors they are capable of producing, have been with us for 35 years. We might be tempted to let familiarity blunt the impact of these facts on our mind, were it not so frequently refreshed by news of ever more powerful weapons, ever-increasing numbers in the stockpiles, and ever more efficient means of delivering them to their targets. Any future nuclear attack could be, and probably will be, enormously more devastating than those experienced in the unfortunate cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fortunately, the danger of this happening is very much reduced by the ‘balance of terror’: by the fact that the United States and the Soviet Union both possess these weapons in profusion, so that any nuclear attack on either country or on their allies must expect a reply in kind. In this kind of nuclear war there can be no victors.