Education, advocacy and campaigning for nuclear weapons abolition are core to the work of MAPW.
Our opposition to nuclear weapons is based on the fact that they represent a major existential threat. No significant emergency response would be possible in the event of a nuclear explosion, the only ethical approach is to prevent their storage and use.
There are currently around 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world, owned by just nine nations. Russia and the USA possess over 93% of today’s nuclear weapons. The other nuclear armed nations are the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
The Federation of American Scientists has made an estimate of the size of each country’s nuclear arsenal using the best information available. The dangers of this large stockpile are many;
- In 2017 the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday clock to 2 ½ minutes to midnight
- Use of nuclear weapons would create a nuclear wasteland in which no medical help is really possible, as health workers and facilities are largely destroyed.
- Detailed modelling by IPPNW has shown that even with a limited nuclear exchange (less than 1% of the world’s stockpiles) a decade long winter would follow, due to the massive amount of particulate matter released in to the atmosphere. This winter would cause 10-15% reduction in crop yields for wheat, corn and rice, causing global famine.
- This would put up to two billion lives at risk, particularly in food insecure nations.
- Production of nuclear weapons creates deadly nuclear waste.
- A nuclear weapon detonation could occur accidentally or by unintended launch. There have been a frightening number of near misses.
- The production and maintenance of nuclear weapons takes vital resources away from healthcare and other essential services. In the USA alone, about $US40 billion is spent on nuclear weapons each year.
- Nuclear weapons are unique in their capacity to cause human suffering. The first nuclear weapons, used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, caused the deaths of over 200,000 people before the end of that year.
- Nuclear weapons create international instability and insecurity, rather than acting as a deterrent.
While Australia does not have nuclear weapons, it is very much involved in the production process. We have around 30% of the worlds known uranium resources, which we sell to nuclear armed nations. “Safeguards” do not guarantee that it will not end up in nuclear weapons. more…
We have a clear responsibility to renounce support for US nuclear weapons and to work urgently towards abolishing these ultimate weapons of mass destruction.
In 2007, MAPW and IPPNW launched the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN), with the goal of a treaty to prohibit all aspects of nuclear weapons, including not only their use but even their possession. On 7 July 2017 – following a decade of advocacy by ICAN and its partners – an overwhelming majority of the world’s nations adopted a landmark global agreement to ban nuclear weapons, known officially as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN was the key civil society partner in this process. The Treaty will enter into legal force once 50 nations have signed and ratified it.
The major impact of the ban treaty will be in stigmatising and delegitimising these weapons. This will change the global norm, so that nuclear weapons possession is seen as a violation of civilised behaviour as well as a violation of international law. This will help greatly in exerting pressure for divestment from nuclear weapons producing companies.
- Joint working paper from four global federations of health workers stating “Nuclear weapons require urgent action to prohibit and eliminate them” signed by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), the World Medical Association (WMA), the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA), and the International Council of Nurses (ICN). The working paper summarizes the evidence presented at three international conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons.
- ICAN: For UN Ban Treaty updates check out the ICAN website