Nuclear disarmament

From Academic Kids

Nuclear disarmament is the proposed undeployment and dismantling of nuclear weapons particularly those the United States and the Soviet Union (later Russia) targeted on each other.

Proponents of nuclear disamament said that it would lessen the probability of nuclear war occurring, especially accidentally. Critics of nuclear disarmament said that it would undermine the theory of deterrence, which has supposedly kept the world free of nuclear war.


The movement for disarmament has varied from nation to nation over time.

In the United States, where nuclear weapons were first created, the movement for disarmament had a few prominent proponents in the earliest days of the Cold War who argued that the creation of an international watchdog organization could be used to enforce a ban against the creation of nuclear weapons. During the 1960s, a much stronger popular movement against nuclear weapons began to develop, rallying primarily around the fear of nuclear fallout from nuclear testing. After the Partial Test Ban Treaty (1963), which prohibited atmospheric testing, the movement against nuclear weapons somewhat subsided by the 1970s (and was replaced in part by a movement against nuclear power). In the 1980s, though, a popular movement for nuclear disarmament again gained strength in the light of the weapons build-up and rhetoric of President Ronald Reagan. After the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, though, the momentum would again fade.

In the USSR, voices against nuclear weapons were few and far between as there was no "public" to speak of as a political factor. Certain citizens who had become prominent enough to be safe to criticize the Soviet government, of which Andrei Sakharov is exemplary, did speak out against nuclear weapons to little effect.

Only one country has been known to ever dismantle their nuclear arsenal completely—the apartheid government of South Africa apparently developed half a dozen crude fission weapons during the 1980s, but they were dismantled in the early 1990s. After the fall of the Soviet Union, a number of former Warsaw Pact states (Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan) found themselves in possession of Soviet nuclear weapons, but they were apparently given to Russia (who took responsibility and ownership of the Soviet arsenal), though due to a clerical error it has been reported that Ukraine may still be in possession of some number of nuclear missiles.

A number of nations have aborted nuclear weapons programs that were not successful as well. For a full list, see: List of countries with nuclear weapons.


Many organisations and networks exist which distribute information and put pressure on governments, e.g. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). There was also a strong peace camp movement.

In 1955 11 leading scientists and intellectuals signed the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, warning of the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and calling on world leaders to find peaceful solutions to international tensions. This was following in 1957 by the first of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs.

See also



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