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

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

Remarks by Amb. (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Panel on NATO and the NPT
Side event at the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 
United Nations

New York, NY
May 7, 2014


Remarks by Ambassador (Ret'd) Paul Meyer 
Meeting of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND)
Ottawa, Canada
May 13, 2014

Opening Address by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Third Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Elimination
60th Pugwash Conference on Science & World Affairs
on Dialogue, Disarmament & Regional and Global Security
Adile Sultan Palace
Istanbul, Turkey
November 1-5, 2013

Welcome Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Global Zero India-Pakistan Student Institute
Istanbul, Turkey
October 31, 2013

The Third Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Elimination will take place during the first day of the

Opinion by Henrik Salander, Arend J. Meerburg, Miguel Marín Bosch, Paul Meyer, and Zia Mian
Published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
September 24, 2013

Excerpt: "The United Nations General Assembly will hold its first-ever high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament this week.The meeting is a recognition by the international community that nuclear weapons remain an existential threat to humankind. And in theory, humankind knows precisely how to deal with nuclear weapons: They must never be used; they must not proliferate to new states; and they must be prohibited and eliminated over the long term. Otherwise, they will eventually be used again.

But why don’t states act on this acknowledged reality?"