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

The Simons Foundation Canada has supported the creation of The Bruce Blair Memorial Fund at Princeton University to support work at the Program on Science and Global Security (SGS) on nuclear arms control, non-proliferation, and disarmament. The Fund will support SGS efforts that in particular advance the work of Bruce Blair, who joined SGS in 2013 as a research scholar and passed away in July 2020.
Visit The Hill Times at the link below for this commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, a Peace Leader with The Simons Foundation Canada.

Commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
September 21, 2020

Visit Policy Options for this article authored by M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at The University of British Columbia, Sarah Froese and Nadja Kunz, which explains why small modular reactors are not an economical or viable solution to the energy needs for remote communities and mines in Canada. 

Commentary by M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at The University of British Columbia, Sarah Froese and Nadja Kunz
Published by Policy Options
August 26, 2020

Please visit the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for this tribute to Bruce G. Blair, Ph.D. and his work to realize the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Dr. Blair was Co-Founder of Global Zero, Research Scholar with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, and a Peace Shaper with The Simons Foundation as the 2018 recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament. Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons is a Founding Partner of Global Zero and The Simons Foundation Canada is their principal sponsor.

By Jessica Sleight, Zia Mian, Frank von Hippel
Published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
August 11, 2020

Visit The Hindu at the link below for this commentary by Professor M.V. Ramana, Ph.D., the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at The University of British Columbia's School for Public Policy and Global Affairs, and Benoit Pelopidas.

Commentary by Professor M.V. Ramana, Ph.D., the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at The University of British Columbia's School for Public Policy and Global Affairs, and Benoit Pelopidas
Published by The Hindu
August 6, 2020

On the 75th Anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we at The Simons Foundation Canada mourn the loss of lives of the thousands of men, women and children – innocent civilians who were destroyed by use of an amoral and what would be now be an illegal weapon of mass destruction.