Why is Nuclear Disarmament Important?

lessons  learned from nuclear bombing in JapanThe existence of nuclear weapons constitutes a severe threat to humanity. Although only two have ever been deployed against a population during war, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the effects were devastating. The atomic bomb ‘Little Boy’ directly killed 80,000 in Hiroshima with the total attributable deaths, including due to radiation induced illnesses, believed to be 90,000-166,000. The scale of destruction and death was so devastating that the international community agreed nuclear weapons should be eliminated.

The concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) during the Cold War served to reinforce the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons but there is hesitation amongst the NWS due to the perceived vulnerability of being the first to completely disarm their nuclear arsenal.

The issue of nuclear disarmament is of particular relevance today due to the increasingly unstable atmosphere within the international community with regards to the nuclear capability of those not party to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996)

Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1996)

The CTBT proposes a total ban on nuclear testing and would be a huge leap forward in the move to eliminate nuclear weapons.

The treaty opened for signature in 1996 and currently has 183 signatories with 159 states having ratified the treaty but it is yet to come into force. The conditions of the treaty are that all 44 states that possessed nuclear power reactors or research reactors and participated in the negotiation of the CTBT must ratify the treaty before it can come into force.

As of 2013, there were eight of these countries that had failed to ratify the treaty (China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States of America.)
 

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty inspection

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1970)

The nuclear non-proliferation treaty came into force in 1970 and is the principle binding multilateral treaty that is applicable to nuclear weapon states (NWS) regulating the distribution of nuclear weapons.

 It stipulates that NWS cannot share information regarding the construction of nuclear weapons to non nuclear weapons states (NNWS) or entrust nuclear weapons to NNWS to protect or use as strategic locations. The dissemination of nuclear information and capabilities for peaceful means is allowed but the NNWS are subject to intrusive investigations to ensure the information is not being used to manufacture nuclear weapons.

There are currently three confirmed states with nuclear weapon capabilities that are not subject to the treaty and are believed to be increasing their nuclear weapon arsenal (DPRK, Pakistan and India).

How to get involved

intl day against nuclear tests.jpgEach year on the 29th August there is an International Day Against Nuclear Tests which is designed to raise awareness about the dangers of nuclear testing and educate on nuclear issues.

For educational based activities and projects ongoing around the world please click here.

To find out more about Nuclear disarmament and for other ways to engage with this issue then please visit the websites below:
  • For information on UN policy on disarmament (including chemical, biological and conventional arms) please see UNODA.
  • Information on the ongoing conference on disarmament.
  • Find out about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
  • ICAN has an excellent timeline of nuclear weapon development up until 2007 as well as being a great source of information on the campaign for nuclear disarmament.
  • CND is an organisation devoted to nuclear disarmament. The Welsh arm can be found at www.cndcymru.org 
  • To read about ongoing action concerning nuclear disarmament then Article 36 has a great selection of articles on the subject
  • Reaching Critical Will is the disarmament arm of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, there are some excellent publication resources to be found there

Nuclear Weapon Free Zones

There are currently nine areas in the world that have been officially declared Nuclear Weapon Free Zones.
  • Latin America and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlateloco)
  • South East Asia (Treaty of Bangkok)
  • Central Asia (Treaty on the Nuclear Weapon Free zone in Central Asia)
  • Africa (Treaty of Pelindaba)
  • The South Pacific (Treaty of Rarotonga)
  • Antarctica (Antarctic Treaty)
  • Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies (Outer Space Treaty
  • Moon and Other Celestial Bodies'(Moon Agreement
  • On the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor and in the Subsoil Thereof (Seabed Treaty)
  • Mongolia has a self-declared nuclear weapon free status that has been recognised by the General Assembly through GA resolution 55/33S
     
    A Nuclear Weapon Free Zone is defined in General Assembly Resolution 3472B (1975): 
     
    'any zone  recognized as such by the General Assembly of the United Nations, which any  group of States, in the free exercises of their sovereignty, has established by  virtue of a treaty or convention whereby: (a) The statute of total absence of nuclear  weapons to which the zone shall be subject, including the procedure for the  delimitation of the zone, is defined; (b) An  international system of verification and control is established to guarantee  compliance with the obligations deriving from that statute' 

Paper Crane Project

Secretary-General Receives Paper CranesA group of ICAN youth campaigners from high schools in Hiroshima, Japan have embarked on a project to make 1000 paper cranes for the president or prime minister of every member state of the UN (this would amount to over 192,000 paper cranes) to promote the issue of nuclear disarmament and to provoke commitment or support to a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The paper crane is a traditional Japanese symbol of good health and since the 1945 bombings the paper crane has become a symbol for a nuclear-free-world.  So far the group have received responses from 20 states that are available to view on their website.

The action of the ICAN youth is inspired by the story of Sadako Sasaki .

Sadako’s Story:

Sadako Sasaki was two years old at the time of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Despite being just 1 kilometre from the centre of the blast, she survived the immediate effects.

 However, 10 years later purple spots started to form on her legs as a result of radiation sickness from the bombing. She was diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer of the blood. While in hospital, she learned that, according to Japanese legend, if she folded 1,000 paper cranes she would be granted a wish. She started out folding dozens of cranes each day. When she ran out of paper, she used medicine wrappings and whatever else she could find. But then her condition worsened and she could only manage to fold one or two a day. Sadly, she died before reaching her target of 1,000 cranes. Her friends folded the remainder after her death.

Sadako now symbolizes the impact of nuclear weapons on children. A memorial has been built in Hiroshima to honour her and all other child victims of the nuclear bombings.

For more information on this fascinating project click here.

Nuclear Disarmament Survey Results

UNA nuc dis survey page.png

What was the survey for?

UNA Wales created a short 7 question survey relating to both domestic and international nuclear weapons. 

The aim of the survey was to gauge public opinion on the UK's proposed renewal of our 'Trident' nuclear defence system as well as on global nuclear capabilities.

The questions were designed to provoke a response from the participants and prompt an additional comment to the statement.

In total we received 66 responses over the course of a one month period from May-June 2013.

To download the results in pdf format please click here.

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