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

See the link below for a transcript of the address given by The Simons Foundation Peace Leader, the Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., at the "How to Save the World in a Hurry" Science for Peace conference at the University of Toronto, May 30-31, 2018.

Address by the Hon. Douglas Roche, O,C.
How to Save the World in a Hurry 
Science for Peace Conference, University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada
May 30-31, 2018

Visit at the link below for commentary on the recent Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and thoughts on NPT reform and Canada's role, from Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow at The Simons Foundation.
Click here to view these two recent speeches by Prof. the Hon. Gareth Evans, AC, QC, 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 Paul Meyer and Tom Sauer
Published by Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 
April–May 2018

See The Simons Foundation's page on Canadian Defence Policy for briefing papers by Ernie Regehr, O.C., Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence at The Simons Foundation.

Canadian Defence Policy Briefing Paper
by Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence
The Simons Foundation
April 18, 2018

Address by Prof. the Hon. Gareth Evans, AC, QC
The Illawarra Connection
Wollongong, Australia
April 10, 2018

Dinner Address by Prof. the Hon. Gareth Evans, AC, QC
“Korean Peninsula in Crisis: What can Australia do?” Policy Roundtable
convened by Australian National University, Hankuk University, Griffith University, and the Australia-Korea Foundation
Canberra, Australia
March 26, 2018