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

Visit the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN) for this statement by Chair, the Hon. Gareth Evans, AC, QC, responding to the UK’s announcement to increase its nuclear warheads. As a recipient of The Simons Foundation Award for Distinguished Global Leadership in the Service of Peace and Disarmament, Prof. Evans is one of The Simons Foundation Canada's Peace Shapers

Statement by Chair of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN),
The Hon. Gareth Evans, AC, QC
Published by APLN
March 19, 2021



Visit The Hill Times at the link below for this opinion by Professor M.V. Ramana, the Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at The University of British Columbia's School for Public Policy and Global Affairs.
Visit The Globe and Mail at the link below for this Opinion contribution by The Hon. Douglas Roche O.C., a Peace Leader at The Simons Foundation Canada.

Opinion by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Globe and Mail (subscription required)
January 22, 2021

Click here for the statement by Derek Johnson, chief executive officer of the international Global Zero movement for the elimination of nuclear weapons, in response to President Joe Biden's offer to President Vladimir Putin of a full five-year extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the United States. The New START treaty, which limits both countries to no more than 1,550 strategic offensively deployed nuclear weapons each, will expire February 5, 2021 without mutual agreement to extend.

Commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Published by The Hill Times (subscription required)
January 18, 2021

Visit The Hill Times for this commentary by The Hon. Douglas Roche O.C., a Peace Leader at The Simons Foundation Canada, about the January 22nd Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), including NATO’s attitude toward the Treaty and the growing support for the Treaty in Canada.

The Simons Foundation Canada is pleased to share the following invitation to join Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) for their "Nuclear Disarmament in a World Emergency: Canada’s Responsibilities" online seminar series.  See the following for more information and to register. 

We are pleased to share the following two commentaries by Paul Meyer on how the "nuclear umbrella" allies are responding to the challenge to their policies represented by the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), including a possible route Canada might take to permit eventual accession to the ban treaty.