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

Following President-elect Donald Trump’s comments on U.S. nuclear capabilities over the holidays, 2017 begins with worrisome questions about his intentions. Visit OpenCanada.org at the link below for commentary by Paul Meyer, Senior Fellow at The Simons Foundation.
Visit iHS Jane's Intelligence Review for Paul Meyer's assessment of what has been a difficult year for nuclear disarmament and thoughts on prospects for any progress in 2017.

Commentary by Paul Meyer
The Simons Foundation Senior Fellow
Published by OpenCanada.org
November 1, 2016

Amb. (Ret) Paul Meyer is Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Fellow in International Security, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada; and Senior Fellow in Space Security, The Simons Foundation.

Last week, the Canadian-led resolution on a "Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons" (L65) was adopted by the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly with wide support. Visit OpenCanada.org at the link below for Paul Meyer's commentary on how effective the "High Level Preparatory Group" it establishes will be in generating a draft treaty text.
Dr. Hans Blix says Japan should take the lead in efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons. Visit The Asahi Shimbun at the link below for their recent interview with Dr. Blix.

Interview with Dr. Hans Blix
Published by The Asahi Shimbun
October 30, 2016

Dr. Hans Blix, Swedish diplomat, was Chair of The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and is a Peace Leader at The Simons Foundation.

Commentary by Paul Meyer
The Simons Foundation Senior Fellow
Published by The Hill Times
October 28, 2016

Amb. (Ret) Paul Meyer is Adjunct Professor of International Studies and Fellow in International Security, Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada; and Senior Fellow in Space Security, The Simons Foundation.

Visit The Hill Times for commentary by Paul Meyer on Canada's position related to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee resolution, "Taking Forward Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament Negotiations" (L41), adopted on October 27th, which authorizes negotiation of a nuclear weapons ban.

Presentation by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Founder and President, The Simons Foundation
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Symposium: The Fierce Urgency of Nuclear Zero: Changing the Discourse
Santa Barbara, CA
October 23-25, 2016