Displaying items by tag: Campaigns
Sunday, 17 June 2007 06:10

Nuclear convoys

Nuclear warheads are regularly transported along the roads of England and Scotland. They are carried in specially designed trucks in convoys that include armed escorts, communications and breakdown vehicles.

For many years these nuclear convoys were kept secret not only from the general public and press but from the local authorities, including Emergency Planning Officers and even traffic police, fire and medical services.

Now however, after regular, careful tracking and publicising of the convoys by anti-nuclear campaigners, the Ministry of Defence has had to admit their existence and has published on a restricted basis their emergency instructions in case of an accident.

» Find out more about the Nukewatch network against road transportation of nuclear warheads. www.nukewatch.org.uk

Warhead Carriers
Foden ‘Truck Cargo Heavy Duty Mark 2’ are large, green, articulated lorries. They have an air-conditioning unit on the roof and spikes around the top of the cooling unit at the back of the driver’s side of the cab. The tractor unit has four axles and the trailer is covered by a green tarpaulin. Apart from military number plates, the vehicles are unmarked.    

Also in the convoy...    

  • A spare tractor unit in case of any problems with a tractor unit.    
  • A green military fire engine always travels directly behind the last warhead carrier.
  • A convoy support vehicle carries radiation detection and decontamination equipment as well as spare arms, ammunition, rations, communications equipment and motorcycles. It is similar to a large green furniture van with blue lights on the roof.    
  • A heavy duty tow-truck in case of breakdowns.    
  • 2-3 RAF Police motorcycle outriders whose role is traffic control, allowing the convoy to go through traffic lights and around roundabouts without stopping.
  • 4-5 pale grey Transit vans travel in various positions along the convoy and carry armed Royal Marines from the Commachio Company.

The following video, produced by NukeWatch, is of a convoy leaving AWE Burghfield for Couplport:

What are they carrying?

The regular convoys carry nuclear warheads for Britain’s Trident nuclear-missile. New warheads are sent from the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield, near Reading, where they are assembled, to Coulport in Scotland, near where the submarines are based. Since the warheads have a limited shelf-life, they also have to be returned to Burghfield for overhaul.

There are also occasional movements of what are known as Special Nuclear Materials. These include convoys, probably of nuclear warhead parts or of complete warheads, between AWE Aldermaston, near Newbury, and RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, from where they are flown to the United States. (usually to Dover Air Force Base in New York State).

This traffic is highly secret - so much so that the Ministry of Defence will not even admit its existence. The convoys are much smaller and usually consist of one or two large, dark blue armoured trucks with police escorts in Transits and Range Rovers.

Other convoys carry Highly Enriched Uranium (fuel for submarine reactors) between Aldermaston and Rolls Royce, Derby and plutonium (the nuclear explosive for warheads), between Sellafield in Cumbria and Aldermaston. Finally there are occasional convoys between Aldermaston and Coulport: contents unknown.

Which routes do they use?

The final manufacture and assembly of all British nuclear warheads takes place at Burghfield, near Reading. They also have to be taken back there at regular intervals for maintenance and finally for scrapping. The other destination for convoys is the warhead store at Coulport, just a couple of miles from the Trident submarine base at Faslane, west of Glasgow.

The routes vary, particularly between Burghfield and Scotland but most of these convoys travel via the M4, M25 and A1 as far as Newcastle and then on through Glasgow.

How often do the convoys run?

On average there is a convoy movement once a month. Many of these are for training purposes with a limited number of fully-laden movements. Until 2004 the conyos only moved during daylight hours so took several days to reach their destination, but a change of MoD policy means they can now make the 500 mile road trip in one go. Convoys travelling in the dark present an even greater hazardous to those they share the roads with.

What are the dangers?

Compared with similar American warheads, several safety features are missing from the British Trident warheads. However in case of an accident, a nuclear explosion while possible, is still extremely unlikely. Much more likely is damage to a warhead caused by either fire or impact. Since all nuclear warheads contain some conventional high explosives, these could then detonate and scatter plutonium or uranium dust over a wide area.

Plutonium, in the form of dust, could be carried several miles down wind. Plutonium is deadly if breathed in. One speck lodged in the lungs is likely to lead to cancer. Plutonium remains lethal for 24,000 years. It could therefore be necessary, depending on the wind, to evacuate an area of up to several dozen square miles. Every surface, including topsoil and vegetation, would be contaminated as would all water.

The routes regularly used include not only motorways but ordinary single carriageway roads, often passing close to or even through large towns. Emergency planning officers have already pointed out that it would be completely impossible to evacuate, for instance, central Glasgow, in time to avoid the possible consequences of a traffic accident involving a nuclear warhead carrier.

Have there ever been any accidents?

Yes. Two warhead carriers collided in the middle of Helensburgh in Scotland. A carrier skidded on ice, ran off the road and overturned in a ditch at Dean Hill in Hampshire. Another carrier collided with a car on the A303, near Exeter. The car driver was killed. So far none of the nuclear warheads has been sufficiently damaged to release any radioactive material. Our luck may continue to hold. Or there may be a catastrophe next week.    

Published in No To Trident
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 05:35

Iraq / Afghanistan

Legal stuff and updates

sdf this is the file link.


Published in Anti-war
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 10:07

Nuclear Weapons Convention

In 1996, the International Court of Justice declared that to use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons is illegal in almost all conceivable circumstances. Yet no legislation currently outlaws these weapons. Legally-binding, international agreements to ban other weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons have already been agreed. It is vital for the security of our world that a similar agreement, a Nuclear Weapons Convention, to ban nuclear weapons is negotiated. Without this, nuclear proliferation and nuclear weapons use are ever increasing dangers. Now is the time to outlaw nuclear weapons worldwide.

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires both nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation. Until recently, it has been relatively successful in terms of non-proliferation – at the time the Treaty was introduced there was widespread fear that dozens of countries would pursue nuclear weapons, and this has not happened. But there has been little success in achieving progress on disarmament and this failure is now increasing the danger of proliferation.

To deal with this problem, in 1997 a draft treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons was drawn up by an international team of legal, scientific, disarmament and negotiation experts. This model Nuclear Weapons Convention was submitted by Costa Rica to the United Nations for discussion. Unlike the NPT, the Convention provides a concrete framework to accomplish a nuclear weapons-free world with practical detail on difficult issues such as verification and inspection.

General obligations

The Model Nuclear Weapons Convention prohibits development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons. States possessing nuclear weapons will be required to destroy their arsenals according to a series of phases. The Convention also prohibits the production of weapons-usable fissile material and requires delivery vehicles to be destroyed or converted to make them non-nuclear capable.

Phases for elimination
The Convention outlines a series of five phases for the elimination of nuclear weapons:

  1. take nuclear weapons off alert,
  2. remove weapons from deployment
  3. remove nuclear warheads from their delivery vehicles
  4. disable the warheads, removing and disfiguring the ‘pits’ and
  5. place the fissile material under international control. 

In the initial phases, the U.S. and Russia are required to make the deepest cuts in their nuclear arsenals.

The abolition of nuclear weapons is essential for human survival and sustainability; the current situation of planned indefinite retention of their nuclear weapons by the NWS [nuclear weapon states] feeds proliferation, is unstable, dangerous and unsustainable.’
Securing our Survival (SOS) The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, 2007 

Other indiscriminate weapons

International treaties have already banned other weapons of mass destruction and other categories of indiscriminate weapons. Land mines also indiscriminately injure and kill civilians and combatants alike but an international Mine Ban Treaty entered into force in 1999. Other weapons of mass destruction have been banned by the Biological Weapons Convention (1975) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (1997). Enough political will means negotiations can be concluded quite rapidly. The Chemical Weapons Convention required ten years of negotiations to build up confidence in the treaty and its verification processes. The Mine Ban Treaty was negotiated in just a year.

Widespread support

In recent years there have been increasing calls for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In a 2007 YouGov poll 64% of the UK population said the government should support a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Another poll conducted at the end of 2008 showed an even higher majority of 81% in favour. This poll was one of a series conducted in 21 different countries which showed an overall majority worldwide of 76% in favour of such a treaty. There was also a clear majority in favour in the other nuclear-armed states (US 77%, France 86%, China 83%, Russia 69%, Israel 67%, India 62%) except for Pakistan where there was a split of 46% in favour and 41% against with the rest undecided.

ican_logo.gifThe International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

ICAN is a new international campaign to promote the Nuclear Weapons Convention. Initiated by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), ICAN was launched at the 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting in Vienna.

CND has joined with Medact – the British section of IPPNW – and other organisations to launch the campaign in the UK. Many other groups all over the world are launching the campaign in their own countries, with particular support from Mayors for Peace.

A revised Nuclear Weapons Convention with an updated report Securing our Survival (SOS): The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention was submitted by Costa Rica and Malaysia to the recent NPT PrepCom.

Read ICAN UK's Q&A on a Nuclear Weapons Convention to understand more about why it is so vital such a worldwide ban is negotiated now.

Negotiations must start now

The UK government has recently reaffirmed its commitment to multilateral nuclear disarmament through good faith negotiations as required by the NPT. To honour its commitments CND calls on the government to cancel any preparations for a new nuclear weapons system to replace Trident after 2024 and to work to progress multilateral negotiations with the aim of achieving implementation of a Nuclear Weapons Convention by 2020.

Published in Global Abolition
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 10:06

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty came into force in 1970, following widespread international concern about the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation and the spiraling nuclear weapon stocks of those states that had developed them. It is a binding multilateral treaty with the goal of general and complete nuclear weapons disarmament.

The UK is one of five states that had already acquired nuclear weapons before the treaty was signed – the other nuclear weapon states are the United States, Russia, China and France. The treaty establishes that those states without nuclear weapons agree not to acquire them and those with nuclear weapons agree to disarm. It also gives states the right to develop civil nuclear power. The UK does not have any right to possess nuclear weapons under the treaty; instead it is legally bound to disarm.

Three states, Israel, India and Pakistan did not sign the NPT. They stayed outside the treaty framework and have developed nuclear weapons. North Korea signed the treaty but withdrew from it in 2003.

Article VI of the treaty provides for nuclear disarmament:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention

The Review Conference of 2015 ended with no agreement, reportedly due to disagreements on the lack of progress on a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East.  See here for more information.

Full text of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty


Published in Global Abolition
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 08:46

Depleted Uranium

Depleted Uranium (DU) is a chemically toxic and radioactive, heavy metal which is produced as a by-product of the enrichment of uranium for civil nuclear power programmes. It is used in armour-piercing munitions because of its very high density; DU is 1.7 times denser than lead, giving DU weapons increased range and penetrative power.

Why is it a problem?

The use of DU in weapons disperses toxic and radioactive dust which can then be inhaled. It is thought that using DU has caused a sharp increase in the incidence rates of some cancers, such as breast cancer and lymphoma, in areas of Iraq following 1991 and 2003.
It has also been implicated in a rise in birth defects from areas adjacent to the main Gulf War battlefields. While we have a reasonable idea how much DU was used in the Balkans (12,700kg) and the 1991 Gulf War (290,300kg) there is little data on the extent of its use following the 2003 invasion in Iraq. One estimate put the total at 140,000kg by early 2004. What is clear is that far more has been used in urban areas; this is because of a move towards asymmetric warfare and an increasingly cavalier approach to the use of DU.

A US Marine Corps Abrams Main Battle Tank fires on Fallujah, Iraq

Where has depleted uranium been used and who uses it?

DU was used on a large scale by the US and the UK in the Gulf War in 1991, then in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo, and again in the war in Iraq by the US and the UK in 2003. At least 17 countries are thought to have weapon systems containing DU. Many of them were sold DU ammunition by the US while others, including UK, France, Russia, Pakistan and India are thought to have developed it independently.

The legal status of depleted uranium weapons

Although no sole treaty explicitly banning the use of DU is yet in force, it is clear that using DU runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary International Humanitarian Law.
In 2006, the European Parliament strengthened its previous calls for a moratorium by calling for the introduction of a total ban, classifying the use of DU, along with white phosphorous, as inhumane.
In 2007, Belgium became the first country in the world to ban all conventional weapons containing uranium. Other states are set to follow their example.
In February 2008 the Italian government elected to offer compensation to Italian veterans made ill in Iraq and the Balkans and agreed to invest millions of Euros into DU research.

ICBUW - The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

cadu-logo_web_190px.jpgCND is a member of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). Based in Manchester, UK and administered by the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU), ICBUW has 95 member organisations in 26 countries worldwide,  ICBUW is the best initiative yet to achieve a ban on all conventional weapons containing uranium. Even though the use of weapons containing uranium should already be illegal under International Humanitarian, Human Rights and Environmental Laws, an international treaty, such as those treaties already banning chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster bombs, is vital to enforce their abolition.

There is a growing consensus among civil society groups, scientists and some military organisations that the health risks from DU have been seriously underestimated. Established scientific bodies have been slow to react to the wealth of new research into DU and policy makers have been content to ignore the claims of researchers and activists. Deliberate obfuscation by the mining, nuclear and arms industries has further hampered efforts to recognise the problem and achieve a ban.

Published in Depleted Uranium
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 08:45

No to Nuclear Power

Government spin doctors and the nuclear industry have been working overtime to repackage nuclear power as a green solution to climate change. They want to build new nuclear power stations, but they know we won’t want them if we know the reality – nuclear power is dirty and dangerous and not the answer to climate change. 


Why Nuclear Power is not the Answer 

  • nuclear_power_sizewellblockade20aug2007.jpg

    Nuclear power is not carbon emission free. The whole nuclear cycle from uranium mining onwards produces more greenhouse gases than most renewable energy sources with up to 50% more emissions than wind power. Even if we doubled nuclear power in the UK it would only reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 8%. This is because nuclear power only contributes to electricity generation which only accounts for up to a third of all carbon emissions (transport and industry account for most of the rest). 
  • Climate change is happening now. A new nuclear power station will take at least 10 years to build and longer to generate electricity. Wind farms can be up and running in less than a year.
  • It’s expensive. The nuclear industry is massively subsidised by the British public. Sizewell B, the UK’s most recent power station cost the taxpayer around £3.7billion just to install Decommissioning and cleaning up all of our current nuclear sites is costing more than £70 billion.
  • It’s not sustainable. The reserves of uranium ores used to generate nuclear power are going to run out. There is only 50 years worth of high uranium ores left in the world. There may be only 200 years left of all uranium ores including poor uranium ores which take more energy to mine and process and thus release more carbon emissions. 
  • Nuclear power threatens the environment and people’s health. It produces enormous amounts of carcinogenic toxic radioactive waste, some of which is dangerous for thousands of years. No safe solution has yet been devised to store it. In particular, there is evidence of cancer clusters linked to nuclear power production. Building new nuclear power stations would increase the most toxic high level waste five-fold. Read CND's summary of the German government-commissioned research that shows increases in cancer in children under five living near nuclear power stations.
  • Uranium mining kills. Uranium mining is the first step in the nuclear power cycle; it has taken the lives of many miners all over the world causing environmental contamination, cancers and nuclear waste.
  • Nuclear accidents. The risk of terrible nuclear accidents like Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Windscale (Sellafield) will plague a new generation of power stations as it did the first. Read more about these accidents.
  • A terrorist target. Nuclear power carries with it the risk of nuclear terrorism. In this age of uncertainty, dirty bombs and attacks on power stations are a terrifying threat.
  • The proliferation of nuclear weapons is inextricably linked to nuclear power by a shared need for enriched uranium, and through the generation of plutonium as a by-product of spent nuclear fuel. The two industries have been linked since the very beginning and a nuclear weapons free world requires a non-nuclear energy policy. 

We need a safe, genuinely sustainable, global and green solution to our energy needs, not a dangerous diversion like nuclear power.

For more information on nuclear power, see our briefings section

Published in Nuclear Power
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 08:42


CND's core strategic objectives include campaigning for the 'Prevention and cessation of wars in which the nuclear weapons of Britain or other countries might be used.'

Since 2001, CND has opposed the US's so-called 'war on terror' and backed solutions to conflict and complex problems based on dialogue and justice. CND's Annual Conference took place just a few days after the terrible atrocities of September 11th and the conference was overwhelmingly united in condemning the terrorism, but also in condemning state terrorism. CND's view was that the criminals who perpetrated the crime should be brought to justice, but we completely opposed plans to launch a NATO-led military attack on Afghanistan in response. The deaths of thousands of innocent Afghani civilians have not been a just response and neither they nor the continuing war on that country have provided a solution to any problem facing Afghanistan or the wider international community.


In the forefront

Since that time, CND has been in the forefront of anti-war campaigning, working closely on these issues with its allies in the Stop the War Coalition, the Muslim Association of Britain and the British Muslim Initiative. Together we have organised dozens of national demonstrations against war and occupation. CND has also linked with peace and anti-war campaigns internationally, to coordinate international opposition - such as the global day of action against war on Iraq on 15th February 2003. Up to two million people were mobilised in the UK on that day, and millions more around the world.

The war on Iraq - legal initiatives

CND took a strong position against the war on Iraq and worked with a top-flight legal team which, among other things, took the government to court to ask for an advisory opinion on the legality of using Resolution 1441 as a pretext for war. CND believed that war crimes were committed in Iraq, and we sought to bring those responsible to justice. Read more about our work here.

Drones: the new weapons of war

CND is increasingly concerned about drone attacks killing innocent people and promoting conflict. They are currently being used for targeted killings and surveillance in six countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and Somalia. The US is the main user but the UK is following its lead without public debate or consultation. New Watchkeeper drones have been tested at Parc Aberporth in Wales and will cost the UK nearly £1 billion. British 'pilots' based in Nevada fly Reaper drones in Afghanistan but soon these will mainly be controlled from RAF Waddington, near Lincoln. NATO and other countries are also buying into the technology.

Thousands of people have been assassinated by drones with no chance to make a case for their innocence or lives. Some sources suggest that a third to a half of all casualties from drones strikes are civilians who are caught up in the attacks, including hundreds of children. As there is no risk to the 'pilots' controlling the drones thousands of miles from those they are killing, a violent attack is more likely to occur than peaceful negotiation and dialogue. In the future, drones may become even more dangerous: they may be able to make their own decisions without human control, they might be nuclear-powered, and future drone bombers may even carry nuclear weapons.

See the Drone Campaign Network and Drone Wars UK websites for more information.

Don't attack IranDont_attack_Iran_placard_resized

We work to oppose any attacks on Iran. We do not believe that military interventions, which overwhelmingly affect innocent civilians, are the right way to deal with complex regional problems, or with concerns about potential nuclear proliferation. We support UN resolutions – over many decades – calling for a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East.

CND welcomes a report by the Scientists for Global Responsibility emphasising the danger of military action: the report explains that a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities would kill large numbers of civilians, result in regional war, and incite Iran to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and ensure their acquisition of nuclear weapons.

Published in Anti-war
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 08:39

No to US Missile Defence

The United States has been developing an extremely expensive weapons system over several decades now generally termed 'Missile Defense'. Previously this system – coming to prominence under President Reagan in the 1980s - was commonly referred to as 'Star Wars' because of its plan to use satellites and missiles which travel through space. In its latest version, the US is now involving Europe in this system via the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and claims it will protect the US and its allies from attack by missiles.

Missile Defence interceptor, Alaska

An offensive system which encourages an arms race

Contrary to US claims, this system (consisting of missile bases and radar stations across the world and including sea-based components) will allow the US to attack other countries in a first strike capacity without fear that they will be able to effectively attack back because such a retaliation would be neutralised by the system. In other words, the US Missile Defence system is offensive. Having such a weapons system inevitably leads to an arms race as other countries feel pushed to level the balance of power and threat by developing their own competitive missile defence systems or weapons systems that might overcome the US system.

US Missile Defence helps the US achieve a strategy of global military dominance, that is control of land, sea, air, space and information. In 2002 the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, signed with Russia, in order to further develop the system.

UK on the front line

The UK allows bases at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales in Yorkshire, which operate outside British law and parliamentary scrutiny, to be crucial components of the system. In doing so our country becomes complicit in the US military agenda and Britain is put on the front line in any future US war.

A potential aggressor could seek to destroy US Missile Defence facilities in Europe in the context of an imminent war with the US. During Bush's presidency the plans sparked controversy and increased tension with Russia. Continuing development of the system remains a bone of contention between the two countries and does nothing to help efforts towards reduction of the enormous numbers of nuclear weapons each country still has.

68% of British people believe parliament should decide on UK 'support and involvement in the US National Missile Defence programme, including the stationing of US radar and communications bases in Yorkshire' (there has not yet been a full public and parliamentary debate on our involvement) - YouGov/CND poll, July 2007

Menwith Hill from Harrowate by jlcwalker

European involvement

Russia believes the US Missile Defence system is targeted at them; the US claims that the system is to defend against attacks from Iran. But plans for both sea and land-based elements will virtually surround the area of Russia and China by the system. There are fears that continued development - including plans to site bases in Southern and Central Europe - will provoke a new Cold War with Russia.

The Obama administration reviewed Bush's Missile Defence plans and in 2009 scrapped plans for interceptor missiles to be based in Poland and a radar base to be located in the Czech Republic (there was much opposition in both countries to these plans and campaigners widely celebrated this news).

However, Obama has in fact enlarged and strengthened US Missile Defence in different ways and there is concern as to which countries will now play host to the dangerous system. Turkey, the Balkans and Israel have been suggested, adding tension in an already unstable region. Romania has agreed to host interceptor missiles and Bulgaria has started discussions. Poland is now hosting a Patriot Missile Battery (short range missiles), 50 miles from the Russian boarder. Additionally, the Czech Republic announced that an early warning centre may be operational there by 2011/ 2012.

Phased adaptive approach

To involve Europe in the system the US is planning for a new 'phased, adaptive approach'. It was agreed at the NATO Summit in 2010 that NATO and the US would develop the European components. The first phase of the new system, to be operational by 2011, will deploy sea-based interceptor missiles that can be stationed wherever and whenever required. The second phase, due to be completed by 2015, will involve placing upgraded interceptor missiles somewhere in Southern and Central Europe. Further phases would see the development of new generations of land and sea-based missile interceptors.

The revised plans will reportedly make better use of existing radar bases such as the UK one at Fylingdales. According to Defence Secretary Robert Gates: 'American missile defense on the continent will continue, and not just in Central Europe, the most likely location for future sites, but, we hope, in other NATO countries as well.'

Sea Based Radar

Weapons in space

A number of components of the US Missile Defence system are space-based. Some European states, along with Russia, Canada and China are openly opposed to the weaponisation of space and are trying to develop an international treaty banning this. Yet the US has vetoed all attempts to negotiate such a treaty and the UK has so far played no useful role in opposing space weaponisation.

CND says No to US Missile Defence

The US Missile Defence system is a provocative military system, under the guise of defence. It will make the world even more unstable and insecure with the possibility that parts of the system will be based in Turkey, Israel or the Balkans. Its development encourages a global arms race and increases tensions with Russia risking a new Cold War.

CND believes the UK and US governments should concentrate on peaceful, multilateral initiatives for dealing with threats - the only true route to peace, security and nuclear disarmament.

Published in Missile Defence
Tuesday, 29 May 2007 08:36

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

Published in Global Abolition