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

 

Commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
September 22, 2022

All are invited to take part in this Conference on Defence Associations Institute Metro Expert Series Webinar with speakers: Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons, William Alberque, Paul Meyer, and Dr. Nancy Teeple, moderator. October 3, 2022 at 13:30 Eastern. Click here for more information and to register.

Commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
September 5, 2022

Visit The Hill Times at the link below for this commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, a Peace Leader at The Simons Foundation Canada.

Produced by Project Ploughshares on behalf of Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC)
with support from The Simons Foundation Canada
Published April 2022

The Canada and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Conference was initiated and convened by Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) and The Simons Foundation Canada in Ottawa, Canada on November 29-30, 2021.

Commentary by Commentary by Prof. M.V. Ramana
Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security
and Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, The University of British Columbia  
Published by Down To Earth
August 16, 2022