Nuclear Weapons

Beyond Nuclear advocates for the elimination of all nuclear weapons and argues that removing them can only make us safer, not more vulnerable. The expansion of commercial nuclear power across the globe only increases the chance that more nuclear weapons will be built and is counterproductive to disarmament. We also cover nuclear weapons issues on our international site, Beyond Nuclear International.



Just what India needs - more weapons and reactors

U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, during a visit this week to India, has agreed on a deal that will allow the U.S. to market "sophisticated weaponry" to that country. Building on the deal made under the former Bush administration, Clinton further discussed arrangements for U.S. companies to build nuclear power plants in India. What does a country of 1.2 billion people need with sophisticated weaponry, a space program and cancer-causing nuclear reactors when it is struggling to feed its people and provide clean, safe drinking water? It was bad enough that the Bush administration basically forgave India its nuclear weapons program and avoidance of membership of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Now the Obama administration will aid and abet the further proliferation of nuclear materials and technology in one of the most volatile and dangerous regions of the world, plus sell arms to a country whose resources need to be spent on meeting fundamental human needs.


Civil nuclear programs will - and have - led to nuclear weapons development

The U.S. and Russia continue to maintain at least 26,000 nuclear weapons between them, with close to 5,000 ready to launch within minutes. The consequences of such a launch, whether full scale or partial, could still result in a nuclear winter, ending most life on earth as we know it. However, new studies have shown that even a smaller-scale regional nuclear war could still change the climate dramatically, decimating modern agriculture and starving billions. Such a war would affect populations far away from the conflict and the climatic effects would be long-lasting.

Although there are only five recognized nuclear weapons states (the U.S., Russia, China, France and the U.K.), and four unacknowledged ones (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), there are at least 32 additional countries that could develop nuclear weapons from their substantial supplies of uranium and plutonium produced by civilian nuclear programs. Indeed, all four of the unofficial nuclear weapons states developed their weapons from civilian nuclear programs.

The continued insistence on supplying the technology, materials and know-how for civilian nuclear programs perpetuates the danger that nuclear weapons may also be developed - with speculation over Iran a case in point. Furthermore, a typical 1000 MW nuclear reactor produces enough plutonium each year for 40 nuclear bombs according to an analysis by Tom Cochran of NRDC.

It makes no sense to demand, on the one hand, that nuclear weapons states eliminate their arsenals while, on the other hand, offering nuclear energy as a reward to countries that promise not to develop nuclear weapons. It nuclear weapons are to be eliminated, this process must be divorced from resolving energy needs which can in any case be better filled by renewable energy, conservation and energy efficiency programs.


European Parliament recommends complete global nuclear disarmament by 2020

April 29, 2009: The European Parliament has voted to implement concrete tools towards achieving complete global nuclear weapons disarmament by the year 2020. The parliament adopted the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol, since adopted by many towns under the direction of Mayors for Peace.


Energy Department too tied to weapons production to cease favoring nuclear energy

Read the March, 2009 New York Times op-ed by Stephanie Cook that makes the nuclear power and nuclear weapons link.


"World at Risk" warns of nuclear terrorism 

A new report - World At Risk - from the Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction warned in December 2008 that the risk of nuclear or biological weapons being used by terrorists was probable within the next five years and adequate measures to prevent such a catastrophe were not being taken. Read more here.