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

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


The American Nuclear Policy Initiative (ANPI), an independent project of Global Zero featuring a task force of former government & non-governmental experts, released its new report providing an objective analysis of U.S. nuclear policy under the Trump administration. The report details activities on nuclear proliferation, strategic stability, nuclear modernization, Iran, and North Korea, making clear there are growing concerns about most, if not all, of the various nuclear dangers facing the United States and its allies.

American Nuclear Policy Initiative, an independent project of Global Zero
Jon Wolfsthal, ed.
May 2020

The International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group (INRAG) has released a working paper dealing with Covid-19 and its impact on the nuclear power industry. Authors include 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.

International Nuclear Risk Assessment Group Working Paper 
Authored by:
Christoph Pistner
Stephen Thomas
M.V. Ramana
Paul Dorfman
Klaus Gufler
Greg Jaczko
Wolfgang Kromp
Helga Kromp-Kolb
Mycle Schneider
Petra Seibert
Ilse Tweer
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Visit The Japan Times at the link below for this opinion co-authored by Casandra Jeffery and 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.
See the link below for this video and audio podcast produced by Peace Magazine and Project Save the World on November 25, 2019. Trisha Pritikin is a Hanford Downwinder and internationally recognized advocate on behalf of populations exposed to Hanford’s offsite radiation releases. The Simons Foundation has invited Trisha Pritikin to speak in Vancouver in March 2020 - additional information will follow.
Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS), based in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, has developed a new simulation for a plausible escalating war between the United States and Russia using realistic nuclear force postures, targets and fatality estimates. It is estimated that there would be more than 90 million people dead and injured within the first few hours of the conflict.