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

Opening Address by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Third Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Elimination
60th Pugwash Conference on Science & World Affairs
on Dialogue, Disarmament & Regional and Global Security
Adile Sultan Palace
Istanbul, Turkey
November 1-5, 2013

Welcome Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Global Zero India-Pakistan Student Institute
Istanbul, Turkey
October 31, 2013

The Third Simons Symposium on Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Elimination will take place during the first day of the

Opinion by Henrik Salander, Arend J. Meerburg, Miguel Marín Bosch, Paul Meyer, and Zia Mian
Published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
September 24, 2013

Excerpt: "The United Nations General Assembly will hold its first-ever high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament this week.The meeting is a recognition by the international community that nuclear weapons remain an existential threat to humankind. And in theory, humankind knows precisely how to deal with nuclear weapons: They must never be used; they must not proliferate to new states; and they must be prohibited and eliminated over the long term. Otherwise, they will eventually be used again.

But why don’t states act on this acknowledged reality?"

Presentation by Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Celebrating Peace Philanthropy and Furthering Peace Education in the Footsteps of Andrew Carnegie International Symposium
The Hague Peace Palace
September 3, 2013

The Vancouver Declaration is the result of a conference convened February 10-11, 2011, in Vancouver, Canada, by The Simons Foundation and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), entitled "Humanitarian Law, Human Security: The Emerging Framework for the Non-Use and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," with the purpose to develop the Vancouver Declaration on the legal imperative to eliminate nuclear weapons.  

Lecture by Dr. Hans Blix in memory of Joseph Rotblat
Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts
Hay on Wye, United Kingdom
May 26, 2013

Commentary by Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Adjunct Professor of International Studies, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University
Fellow in International Security, Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University
Published by
ay 2, 2013