All five permanent members of the UN Security Council (U.S., U.K., France, Russia, and China) as well as Pakistan, and India have nuclear weapons. Israel is widely believed to have nuclear weapons, and North Korea has exploded three nuclear devices.
Peace Action is working to cut nuclear weapons spending, accelerate the process of dismantling nuclear weapons slated for decommissioning and push the Obama administration to declare its strategy for fulfilling its pledge set the world on a path to nuclear zero, a goal that MAPA also strongly supports. Nuclear weapons make the world less safe. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of use also exists, whether intentional or accidental. Nuclear materials also remain vulnerable to theft or sale for illicit purposes. While states cling to their nuclear arsenals saying they are necessary for their security and the security of their allies, other states will also seek these weapons for their own security. And whether or not you believe deterrence "worked" during the Cold War, it is impossible to believe nuclear weapons could deter non-state actors or terrorists, who by definition have no territory or population to threaten with nuclear retaliation.
In 2009, President Obama gave a speech in Prague in which he said that he U.S. seeks the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. In a follow-up speech in Berlin last month, the president stated, "so long as nuclear weapons exist, we are not truly safe." The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 2011 (New START) negotiated between the U.S. and Russia was a clear victory in progress towards nuclear disarmament. Still, there is room for improvement in the President Obama’s approach to nuclear weapons. His administration has initiated what will turn out to be a one trillion dollar nuclear weapons modernization plan over the next three decades.
Modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal will involve the construction of new submarines and refurbishment of old warheads. It will also mean the continued maintenance of 450 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The one trillion dollar estimate for what modernization would ultimately cost may end up being too low. All of this money going towards construction of new weapons could do enormous good right now in social services, housing, education, and health care.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also referred to as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), codifies a 3-part bargain: 1) nuclear weapon states parties are obligated to negotiate in good faith toward nuclear disarmament; 2) non-nuclear weapon states parties will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons; and 3) all states have the right to use nuclear energy - under international monitoring - for peaceful purposes. Negotiations began in 1968 and the Treaty was opened for signature and entered into force in 1970.
Read the 2017 Nuclear Disarmament Work Plan
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