Nuclear Disarmament

Nuclear weapon test Romeo on Bikini Atoll, 1954. Photo courtesy of the US Dept. of Energy

The existence of nuclear weapons poses the single greatest threat to humanity today. The stockpiles held by the United States, Russia, France, the U.K., China, India, Pakistan and Israel have the capacity to destroy the Earth hundreds of times over. As well, approximately 40 member-state parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have legally acquired nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and also therefore have the capability to develop nuclear weapons.

The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the threat of terrorists seeking to acquire them heightens the existing dangers.

The U.S., Russia, the U.K., France and China possessed nuclear weapons when the Treaty went into force, and committed to eliminate their arsenals.

Though the numbers have been reduced, much more must be done to achieve total prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. The pace is slow and some of these states are upgrading their stockpiles and asserting that nuclear weapons are essential to their security strategies.

There is no ban on nuclear weapons, though they are indiscriminate weapons and their use would constitute a violation of International Humanitarian Law. It is not currently illegal to manufacture them, stockpile them or target a city deemed of military interest. According to the Advisory Opinion on the Legality of Nuclear Weapons, if it is believed that the survival of the state is at risk, it is not illegal to threaten to use and to use nuclear weapons. However, any use would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences and would contravene International Humanitarian Law.

Despite the end of the Cold War and better relations between Russia and the United States, the two countries still have thousands of nuclear weapons, on continuous high-alert status, targeted on each other. Thus, the risk of accidents, accidental launch, terrorist acquisition and attacks remains.

Cities are at risk. The design and purpose for nuclear weapons is to target the most densely populated areas, to kill the maximum number of civilians and to destroy their habitats. Military installations do not require the massive destructive power of a nuclear weapon. 

 

Nuclear Disarmament Content

Commentary by Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation 
Adjunct Professor, School of International Studies, Simon Fraser University
Fellow in International Security, Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University
Published by OpenCanada.org
April 5, 2016

 

Statement by Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
April 2, 2016

 

John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D. is Executive Director of Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy (LCNP), Director of the United Nations Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), and a Fellow with The Simons Foundation.

Commentary by Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper
March 17, 2016

Opening Address by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Fourth Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Elimination
61st Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs
Nagasaki's Voice: Remember Your Humanity
Nagasaki, Japan
November 1-5, 2015

Presentation by Dr. Bruce G. Blair
Research Scholar, Princeton University, and Co-Founder, Global Zero
Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Hofburg Palace
Vienna, Austria
December 8-9, 2014

Address by Jayantha Dhanapala on his receipt of the Inter Press Agency (IPS) 2014 International Achievement Award for Nuclear Disarmament
United Nations
New York, NY
November 17, 2014

By Amb. (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation

Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Arrêtez La Bombe International Conference on the Promotion of Nuclear Disarmament
Assemblée Nationale
Paris, France
June 26-27, 2014

Remarks by Amb. (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
and Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Fellow in International Security,
Simon Fraser University

at the Meeting of National Red Cross Societies on Nuclear Weapons
The Hague
June 16 , 2014