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

Opinion by Amb (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
September 19, 2011

Remarks by Jennifer Allen Simons, CM., Ph.D., LL.D.
Simons Symposium on European Security and Nuclear Disarmament 
59th Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs:
Euopean Contributions to Nuclear Disarmament & Conflict Resolution
Berlin, Germany
July 1-4, 2011

Opinion by Amb (Ret'd) Paul Meyer
Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation
Published by Embassy - Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper
February 2, 2011

Complete results of the global study from The Simons Foundation in partnership with Angus Reid Strategies
October 2008

 

Visit The Globe and Mail for this commentary by Ernie Regehr, The Simons Foundation Canada's Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence.

Opinion by Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence
The Simons Foundation Canada
Published by The Globe and Mail
May 24, 2022

A delegation from The Simons Foundation Canada and Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) visited Ottawa this week for meetings with senior government and political representatives to discuss the danger of nuclear weapons and the role Canada should play in working for nuclear disarmament.  Please visit The Hill Times at the link below for Dennis Kovtun's article on his interview with them. 

Interview with Jennifer Allen Simons, C.M., Ph.D., LL.D.
Founder and President, The Simons Foundation Canada;
Ernie Regehr, O.C.
Senior Fellow in Arctic Security and Defence, The Simons Foundation Canada; and
Cesar Jaramillo
Executive Director, Project Ploughshares
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
May 19, 2022

See The Simons Foundation Canada'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 Canada.

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