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

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

 

Visit OpenCanada.org for this article by Ernie Regehr, Senior Fellow for Defence Policy and Arctic Security at The Simons Foundation.

By Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Senior Fellow in Defence Policy and Space Security, The Simons Foundation
Published by OpenCanada.org
May 11, 2017

See the April 2017 issue of "Arms Control Today" published by the Arms Control Association at the link below for this article by Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow at The Simons Foundation.

By Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Arms Control Today
April 2017

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of “Arms Control Today”, and has been reprinted with the permission of the Arms Control Association.

Visit OpenCanada.org at the link below for this commentary by Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow, on the negative influence of the Trump Administration as evident in comparing the G7 Foreign Ministers' statements on nonproliferation and disarmament issued after their April 2016 and April 2017 meetings.
Visit the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament for this APLN/CNND Policy Brief by Jayantha Dhanapala, a Peace Shaper with The Simons Foundation as a recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament.

By Jayantha Dhanapala
Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN)/
Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND)
Policy Brief No. 38
April 2017