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

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.
Please see the following articles for commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C. on the 75th anniversary of Hiroshima.
The Simons Foundation Canada mourns the unexpected death of our valued colleague and friend, Dr. Bruce G. Blair, Co-Founder of Global Zero, who died on Sunday, July 19, following a sudden illness. Dr. Blair was one of The Simons Foundation's Peace Shapers and the recipient in 2018 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 worked closely with Dr. Blair and is heartbroken at the loss of such an outstanding man who dedicated is life to making the world nuclear-free and safe for humanity.
Visit East Asia Forum at the link below for this commentary 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, co-authored with Casandra Jeffery.
This updated study from Reaching Critical Will explores the ongoing and planned nuclear weapon modernisation programmes in China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
We are pleased to share a letter Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) recently sent to Canada's Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, calling for the start of comprehensive negotiations toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons as a prerequisite for peace. Dr. Jennifer Allen Simons is a member of CNWC's Steering Committee and Advisory Panel and The Simons Foundation Canada provides financial support to CNWC.
Visit the Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament via Taylor & Francis Group at the link below for this article co-authored 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 Lauren J. Borja, Ph.D.