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

Visit IPS News Agency for this commentary by Dr. John Burroughs, a Fellow at The Simons Foundation.

By John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D.
Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Inter Press Service News Agency (IPS)
April 4, 2017

Visit The New York Times for this commentary by Dr. Bruce Blair, one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Leaders.

Op-Ed by Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D.
Published by The New York Times
March 14, 2017
 

See The Simons Foundation's page on The Canadian Defence Policy Review for briefing papers by Ernie Regehr, O.C., Senior Fellow in Defence Policy and Arctic Security at The Simons Foundation.
We are pleased to congratulate the Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., a Peace Leader with The Simons Foundation, on his receipt of the Calgary Peace Prize offered by Mount Royal University's Faculty of Arts, Peace Studies Initiative.
Visit IDN-InDepthNews for this article 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.
Visit Politico Magazine at the link below for this article by Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder of Global Zero, Research Scholar with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, and one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Leaders.
See the link below for the full text of the letter sent to President-elect Trump by Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, former Mayor of Hiroshima and a Peace Leader with The Simons Foundation.

Commentary by Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by OpenCanada.org
January 3, 2017