Global Abolition

Today there are approximately 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The majority are owned by the United States and Russia. The UK, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and possibly North Korea are also nuclear-armed. Many of the nuclear weapons held around the world have hundreds of times more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 which completely destroyed the city and killed around 140,000 people.

Nuclear weapons have no legitimate purpose; nor would their use be legal due to civilian casualties being unavoidable. They are also genocidal and utterly immoral. When confronted with any of today's real security threats, nuclear weapons are irrelevant. They cannot be used to combat climate change, poverty, hunger, overpopulation, terrorists, cyber-attacks or pandemics for example.

Not only do nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately but the radioactive fallout from their detonation means that their effects know no geographical boundaries. Immediate survivors in the vicinity of any nuclear exchange face devastating long-term ill effects or death. Research by the International Red Cross estimates that a billion people around the world could face starvation as a result of nuclear war.

As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world there is always the danger they will be used, whether by accident or intention.

Castle Romeo US nuclear test, 1954

In the minority

Across the world, the desire for the global abolition of nuclear weapons is strong. 115 countries are part of nuclear weapons free zones which cover Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the South Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa. An intra-governmental initiative to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons could lead to international movement on establishing a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Austria has issued a 'pledge' to work towards a ban, which has been supported by 126 countries so far.

Legal Commitment to Disarm

191 states have signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It commits its signatories to either not develop nuclear weapons if they haven't already, or to work towards disarmament if they do possess them. The UK is one of only eight or possibly nine states that actually has nuclear weapons - the rest of the world realises that their safety does not depend on owning weapons of mass destruction.

The NPT signatories meet every five years to review the treaty. The 2010 conference's final document called on the nuclear weapon states to 'undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons', but the 2015 conference failed to reach any agreement. More information, including CND's blogs from the conference, can be read here.

ican-logo.gifCND, along with 350 other organisations, is a partner organisation of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is a global campaign coalition which brings together humanitarian, environmental, human rights, peace and development organizations in more than 90 countries to seize the historic opportunity that exists to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Read ICAN's case for a ban treaty for more information on why a global ban on nuclear weapons is so overdue.

ICAN infographic

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited by an international convention, even though they have the greatest destructive capacity of all weapons. A global ban on nuclear weapons is long overdue and can be achieved in the near future with enough public pressure and political leadership.


Flags of all nations