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 at the link below for this commentary by Dr. John Burroughs, a Fellow at The Simons Foundation.

Opinion by John Burroughs, J.D., Ph.D.
Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by The Hill
November 21, 2017


All are invited to attend a free screening of the documentary film "Where the Wind Blew" which delves into the legacy of nuclear bomb testing during the Cold War in Kazakhstan (USSR) and Nevada (USA) told through the eyes of the victims, activists and participants. Friday, November 24th at Simon Fraser University's Harbour Centre Campus. See the following for more information and to register.
This information on the US nuclear arsenal and its destructive power compiled by The New York Times editorial board is of particular importance given the heightened tensions with North Korea and the recent adoption of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty at the United Nations. Visit The New York Times at the link below for their report.
See the link below for a transcript of the address given at the Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference 2017 by the Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C., one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Leaders.

Address by Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference 2017
Ottawa, Canada
September 23, 2017

Visit Bloomberg at the link below for their question and answer session with Bruce G. Blair, one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Leaders.

Q&A with Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D.
Published by Bloomberg
September 16, 2017

Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D., is 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 Dr. Jenifer Allen Simons' introduction to the Fifth Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Elimination at the 62nd Pugwash Conference on Science & World Affairs, Confronting New Nuclear Dangers, held in Astana, Kazakhstan, August 25–29, 2017.

Address by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
President, The Simons Foundation
Fifth Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Elimination
62nd Pugwash Conference on Science & World Affairs, Confronting New Nuclear Dangers
Astana, Kazakhstan
August 25–29, 2017