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, which include North Korea and Iran, 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 advent 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 warmer 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 Jayantha Dhanapala and Tariq Rauf
Published by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
October 2016

Amb. (Ret.) Jayantha Dhanapala, former Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations, is President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Shapers as a previous recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament.

Visit The New York Times at the link below for this opinion editorial by Bruce G. Blair, one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Leaders.
See The Simons Foundation's Nuclear Disarmament Briefing Papers for this contribution from John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D., a Fellow of The Simons Foundation.

Nuclear Disarmament Briefing Paper
by John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D.
The Simons Foundation Fellow

Dr. John Burroughs is Executive Director of Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy (LCNP), Executive Director of the United Nations office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms(IALANA), and a Fellow with The Simons Foundation.

Occasional briefing papers focussing on nuclear disarmament issues.
The Simons Foundation's Fellows, John Burroughs and Paul Meyer, are among the authors of this UN Office of Disarmament Affairs publication. Please see the following for their contributions: "Legal aspects of general and complete nuclear disarmament" and "Hard and soft linkages between nuclear and conventional disarmament" and for more information on the complete publication.

Viewpoint by Jayantha Dhanapala
Published by IDN-InDepthNews, a project of the International Press Syndicate Group and the Global Cooperation Council
October 2, 2016

Amb. (Ret.) Jayantha Dhanapala, former Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations, is President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Shapers as a previous recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament.

The Vancouver Institute presents The Simons Foundation lecture with Professor Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs, Princeton University, on Saturday, October 15, 2016. This event is free and open to the public.
See the following link for Paul Meyer's recent contribution to the Simons Papers in Security and Development published by the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser Universtiy.

Keynote address by Jayantha Dhanapala
International Conference: Building a Nuclear Weapon Free World
Astana, Kazakhstan

Amb. (Ret.) Jayantha Dhanapala, former Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations, is President of Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Shapers as a previous recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament.