Why no nuclear?
YSCND works for a world free from nuclear weapons and a UK free from Trident. But why do we think that the world would be better off without nuclear weapons?
We’ve prepared this short resource as an introduction to why a world without nuclear weapons is a better world. Our resources are free and available to use for teaching and learning, or wherever else they might be useful. You can download the PDF version below.
The Humanitarian Case
The humanitarian implications of nuclear weapons use are huge. Modern nuclear weapons are more powerful than the weapons which were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Some are 60 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, which killed 70,000 people instantly.
If a nuclear weapon was used, everyone within 2km of the explosion centre would be killed instantly. Other deaths may be caused by secondary fires and building collapse, with severe burning up to 13km from the detonation site.
High doses of radioactivity can lead to other medical side effects in the immediate and long term. People who are exposed to large doses of radiation are more likely to have children that suffer from leukaemia and other medical problems.
The Red Cross investigated the environmental effects of a nuclear war that involved the dropping of 100 weapons. The large amounts of soot from fires that would enter the atmosphere could lower global temperatures by 1.3°C. This could have a big effect on food production and cause starvation of up to one billion people.
Women and girls are disproportionately affected by nuclear weapons use and testing, meaning nuclear weapons set back the cause of gender equality.
The Strategic Case
Proponents of nuclear weapons say that nuclear weapons keep us safe through the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). You can read more about MAD here.
However, MAD doesn’t take into account the threat of accidental use of nuclear weapons. There have been an alarming number of near-misses of accidental use of nuclear weapons. It also doesn’t take into account the threat of non-rational actors possessing and using nuclear weapons, which could trigger a massive nuclear war.
Nuclear weapons also trigger arms races, with each side chasing the ‘nuclear advantage.’ Nuclear weapons also don’t prevent conflicts: look at this list of wars since the invention of nuclear weapons produced by the Imperial War Museum.
The Climate Case
One of the most pressing injustices of our time is climate chaos. The Doomsday Clock, run by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, puts us at high risk of annihilation because of the twin threats of nuclear weapons and climate change.
Nuclear weapons drain our budget so we can’t tackle climate change. If used, they would cause environmental disaster. Their use and testing in the past already causes climate change – e.g. water contamination in Hiroshima. Climate chaos makes nuclear tensions escalate – like in Kashmir, where problems associated with extreme weather have exacerbated conflict between two nuclear-armed states.
The Financial Case
CND estimates that the UK’s nuclear weapons programme will cost us £205bn over its lifetime. How else could we spend that huge amount?