Policy Recommendations of the Pugwash 50th Anniversary Workshop
As long as nuclear weapons exist, they will one day be used.
This sober, inescapable truth continues to haunt the international community. Every minute of every day, more than 26,000 nuclear weapons - many thousands of them on hair-trigger alert - are poised to bring monumental destruction if they are ever used. Nuclear weapons have spread to more countries, and the international non-proliferation regime is perilously close to collapse. Poorly guarded stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium around the world could fall into the hands of terrorists who would think nothing of exploding a nuclear device in a major city.
Momentum is growing in the international community, however, from many different political quarters, to re-energize the campaign to declare nuclear weapons illegal and immoral, and to reduce and eliminate them. But the time is now for decisive leadership and action to mount a global political campaign to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction, before it is too late.
Great changes in history - the end of slavery, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War - have come about through concerted political action, often suddenly and with little warning. The international community has the opportunity to achieve yet another epochal event: ending the reliance on nuclear weapons and the total elimination of these genocidal weapons.
We ask all governments, nuclear and non-nuclear alike, a simple question. What are you doing to fulfill the basic obligation of every government - the 'responsibility to protect' the lives and human rights of its citizens that would be obliterated by nuclear devastation?
Given political leadership and political will, implementation of the following steps could greatly reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use:
We hope that the Government of Canada especially will play an active role in the achievement of these objectives.
The goal of all these initiatives should be the strengthening of an equitable non-proliferation regime that emphasizes the obligations of non-nuclear states not to acquire nuclear weapons, and of nuclear weapons-states to reduce and eliminate their nuclear arsenals as soon as practicable.
Only by concerted political will and public pressure can we avoid the inevitable catastrophe that will surely come if nuclear weapons continue to exist.