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

By Ernie Regehr, O.C.
for the Toward a Nucleaer Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada workshop
Ottawa, ON
April 11-12, 2011

Ernie Regehr is Research Fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo, Fellow of The Simons Foundation of Vancouver, and co-founder of Project Ploughshares.

Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Global Zero Leadership Breakfast
Global Zero/DC Youth Conference
Washington, DC
April 8-10, 2011

The "Humanitarian Law, Human Security: the Emerging Paradigm for Non-Use and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons Conference" was hosted by The Simons Foundation and co-convened by The Simons Foundation and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) in acknowledgement of the Simons Chairs in International Law and Human Security at Simon Fraser University.
Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, Canada
February 10-11, 2011
Progress toward the internationally mandated goal of prohibiting and eliminating all nuclear weapons depends on a durable foundation of political will and a reliable set of legal/technical/security mechanisms to assure compliance. Project Ploughshares works with a broad range of national and international constituencies and partners aimed at deepening the global commitment to nuclear abolition, and encouraging the research and policy development needed to facilitate global and irreversible nuclear disarmament.

Visit TIME Magazine to view this recent article by Bruce Blair, Co-Cordinator of Global Zero

By John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D.

Chapter 11 of Ray Acheson, ed., Beyond Arms Control: Challenges and Choices for Nuclear Disarmament

Reaching Critical Will Project of the Women's International Leage for Peace and Freedom


This conference brought together over 100 Hibakusha (surviving victims of the atomic bombings of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki) with survivors and family members of the World Trade Center disaster on 9/11 to address the unique political, psychological and spiritual contributions survivors of atrocity and their families can make towards a more peaceful future.

Countdown to Zero will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 23, 2010.  We encourage you to watch and promote the film and take ac