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

Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, CM., Ph.D., LL.D.
Simons Symposium on European Security and Nuclear Disarmament 
59th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs:
Euopean Contributions to Nuclear Disarmament & Conflict Resolution
Berlin, Germany
July 1-4, 2011

Opinion by Amb (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper
February 2, 2011

Global Zero is a non-partisan international initiative dedicated to public education, dialogue and awareness-raising among the public and opinion leaders about the urgent nuclear threat and proposals for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Global Zero (GZ) convenes major international conferences of opinion leaders and experts, conducts media, online and grassroots communications and organizes a global campus education and outreach program.

Complete results of the global study from The Simons Foundation in partnership with Angus Reid Strategies
October 2008


Report of the Simons Forum on "Repairing the U.S.-NATO-Russia Relationship and Reducing the Risks of the Use of Nuclear Weapons"
Simon Fraser University
September 27-28, 2018

Convened by The Simons Foundation on behalf of Simon Fraser University’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue under the auspices of the SFU Simons Distinguished Visiting Fellow in International Law and Human Security.

"The world is about to lose one of the most important nuclear disarmament agreements ever made – and distressingly, Canada is silent." Visit The Globe and Mail at the link below for this opinion piece by Ernie Regehr, our Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence, and The Hon. Douglas Roche, a Peace Leader with The Simons Foundation, on the the imminent termination of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty and their call for Canada to intervene and demand a diplomatic review of INF compliance procedures.

Opinion by Ernie Regehr, O.C., Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence
and The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., Peace Leader
The Simons Foundation
Published by The Globe and Mail
January 21, 2019

See the links below for these recent articles co-authored by Professor M.V. Ramana, Ph.D., the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School for Public Policy and Global Affairs, The University of British Columbia.

By Lauren J. Borja, Ph.D.
Simons Postdoctoral Research Fellow
and M. V. Ramana, Ph.D.
Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues 
School for Public Policy and Global Affairs
The University of British Columbia. 
Published by American Physical Society 
Forum on Physics and Society
January 2019

By M.V. Ramana, Ph.D., 
Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security and Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues 
and Mariia Kurando
School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
The University of British Columbia
Published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 
Volume 75, 2019 - Issue 1: Special issue: Spotlight on nuclear modernization