Abolition 2000 – Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear risk reduction

Introduction

This working group (formerly called the De-alerting Working Group) promotes measures to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons being used and to lower the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines. These include de-alerting, eliminating launch on warning, lowering threat postures and adopting policies of no-first-use and/or sole purpose.

These are incremental measures, to be advanced along with simultaneous efforts to eliminate the role of nuclear weapons entirely and to achieve the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. Such incremental measures are vital to prevent nuclear weapons being used, and to build confidence amongst those currently relying on nuclear weapons that the phased prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons will increase – not decrease – their security.

 

Join the working group

If you would like to be active in building nuclear risk-reduction campaigns and cooperation, we invite you to join the working group. Contact one of the conveners: John Hallam, Alyn Ware or Aaron Tovish.

 

Subscribe to the email network: Initiatives to ensure that no-one starts a nuclear war

The working group has recently established an email network on Initiatives to ensure that no-one starts a nuclear war. The network is for activists, policy analysts, legislators and government representatives to share analysis and information on relevant actions and events, with a primary focus on moving all nuclear-armed States to renounce the option of initiating a nuclear war or any other use of nuclear weapons. This includes renouncing the threat to use nuclear weapons first in any conflict. To subscribe, contact Aaron Tovish.

 

Back-ground: Nuclear risks and responses

There are approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons possessed by nine-nuclear armed States, with 10% of these weapons on high operational readiness to use (high alert) on launch-on-warning policies. These weapons provide an existential threat to human civilization, even if only a small portion of the nuclear arsenal is used.

Of the nine nuclear-armed States, six have not ruled out the first-use of nuclear weapons in an armed conflict. They are France, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK and USA.

Another 29 countries (NATO members, South Korea, Japan and Australia) also rely on nuclear weapons and threaten their use against adversaries through extended nuclear deterrence relationships with the United States. These nuclear-reliant States have also not ruled out the possibility of nuclear weapons being used first in a conflict on their behalf.

These policies and practices elevate the risk of nuclear weapons being used by accident, miscalculation or even by intent, especially when tensions between nuclear-armed States are high and conflicts between them remain unresolved.

On January 25, 2018, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists set the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight, highlighting the increased risks from nuclear policies and practices.

The elevated nuclear threats made between North Korea and the USA, and between Russia and the West (USA and NATO), have also given rise to increased attention to nuclear risk reduction in parliaments, media and among think tanks and non-governmental organisations.

This has included the launch by Global Zero of a Nuclear Crisis Group, the holding of hearings in the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Presidential authority to launch a nuclear war, resolutions on nuclear-risk reduction adopted by the US Conference of Mayors and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (see below), the launch of a US campaign Back from the Brink, and a number of  actions on this issue by members of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament. Many of these actions/initiatives have come from members or affiliated networks of Abolition 2000.

 

US congressional actions initiated by PNND members

Recent actions, reports and appeals

 

Resolutions of the UN, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and US Conference of Mayors

 

Statements to UN and NPT meetings

Going nuclear not an option

The working group is considering a proposal to launch a new international campaign ‘Going nuclear not an option’ or ‘Initiating nuclear war, not an option‘ (working titles for the campaign). The campaign would call on all nuclear-armed States to commit to never launch a nuclear war – in essence a no-first-use policy. By rescinding the option of escalating from conventional armed conflict to nuclear war, the nuclear-armed States would reduce the threat of nuclear war, generate confidence in nuclear weapons restraint, and pave the way for negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Click here for Going nuclear not an option a back-ground, food-for-thought paper on the proposal. Also relevant is the recent US Council on Foreign Relations paper No-first-use and nuclear weapons which looks at the arguments for and against a no-first-use policy.

 

Click here for the archived page of the Abolition 2000 De-alerting working group.