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 The Hill Times at the link below (subscription required) for this commentary by The Simons Foundation Peace Leader, The Hon. Douglas Roche, on U.S. plans to spend $100,000 per minute on the maintenance and expansion of nuclear weapons.

Commentary by the Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
May 22, 2019


Visit for commentary by Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow at The Simons Foundation, on the perils the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is facing and a critique of the US initiative to “create the environment for nuclear disarmament” which distracts from the compliance problem the US has created itself.

Acceptance speech by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Founder and President
The Simons Foundation Canada
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Toronto, Canada
May 11, 2019

Address by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
President, The Simons Foundation Canada
Canadian Pugwash Group event: "Strategies for Advancing towards a World Without Nuclear Weapons"
2019 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference
United Nations
New York, NY
May 1, 2019

Visit Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists at the link below for this article co-authored by 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, and Aileen Murphy, the recipient of the UBC Simons Award in Nuclear Disarmament and Global Security.
Visit Arms Control Today at the link below (subscription required) for this article by Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow at The Simons Foundation.  It takes a critical look at a new US policy departure with respect to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and suggests other remedial measures that nuclear weapon states can take in advance of the crucial 2020 NPT Review Conference. 

Article by Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow 
The Simons Foundation
Published by Arms Control Today (subscription required)
Volume 49 - April 2019