Page 1

i can imagine a world without


A guide to elimin ating th worst w e eapons of terro r

ING! clear WARN thousand nu hair-

l Severa s are kept on be n o p dy to a e w t—rea s. r le a r trigge hin minute it used w

Our aim: Steps to get there ...

1 2 3

There are

26,000 nuclear weapons around the world.


nuclear weapons.

Mobilize ordinary citizens around the world to support and take action for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Convince governments to negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban these worst weapons of terror. Hold countries to their obligation under the Convention to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Published 2008. Please copy and distribute freely. Available online at We thank the Poola Foundation (Tom Kantor Fund) for their support. Text and design: Tim Wright

the campaign The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a global grassroots movement. We’re calling on governments to negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC)—a treaty to ban and eliminate the deadliest creation of all time, the nuclear bomb. The overwhelming majority of countries and people want such a treaty. Together we can and must make it a reality. The key to success is you. All people, from every part of the globe, must join forces to demand change. No task is more important or urgent than this. ICAN was initiated by the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and launched internationally at a meeting of parties to the nuclear NonProliferation Treaty in 2007. For more information, go to:

Question 1: In the crazy world of nuclear weapons, what does “MAD” stand for? (Answer p13)

The campaign couldn’t have come at a more critical moment in history. Negotiations for disarmament have stalled. Almost all nuclear-armed nations are actively modernizing their arsenals and many have expanded their plans to use them, including pre-emptively against terrorists and states which don’t have nuclear weapons. Proliferation is a grave concern, with more countries acquiring nuclear weapons. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a leading authority on nuclear dangers, now warns that “we stand at the brink of a second nuclear age. Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 has the world faced such perilous choices.”

Contents Getting active Abolition is achievable Myths and facts Good news, bad news Banning the bomb Nuclear-armed nations Blast effects

3 5 6 7 8 10 13

But there’s every reason to be optimistic that nuclear weapons will one day be abolished. Ever since nuclear weapons were first used, people around the world have opposed them. A great deal has been achieved through the combined efforts of millions of ordinary people and some visionary political leaders. The number of nuclear weapons has been reduced from 68,000 at the height of the Cold War to 26,000 today. Nuclear test explosions have almost stopped, and large areas of the world—including 90 per cent of the southern hemisphere—have been declared nuclear-weaponfree zones. Four countries have given up the bomb and more than a dozen have abandoned nuclear weapons programs. We’ve already mustered the political will to outlaw other types of indiscriminate and inhumane weapons, such as chemical weapons, biological weapons and landmines. And support for an NWC is strong and growing, as more and more people realize that business as usual in relation to nuclear weapons is a recipe for disaster. A comprehensive approach and new energy are needed to 2

complete the task of abolishing nuclear weapons before they are ever used again. The next few years may be the best opportunity for a generation to cast off the nuclear shadow burdening humanity and our planet’s future, and finally achieve a nuclear-weaponfree world. This exciting new movement for abolition is quickly gaining momentum. Be a part of the change.

ICAN’s priorities ICAN calls on all countries to promptly commence negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (see p8). Other asks include: •

That nuclear-armed nations refrain from acquiring new nuclear weapons or modernizing existing ones

That they reduce the likelihood of nuclear weapon use, including by taking them off hair-trigger alert and adopting a nofirst-use policy

That non-nuclear-armed nations adopt defence postures that do not rely on the nuclear weapons of other nations.

i can checklist


Join the campaign – fill in details at for updates. Promote online – become ICAN’s MySpace friend & join the Facebook cause . Spread the word – tell friends, family & colleagues about the campaign . Make a donation – use the online form to help fund this important work .

getting active


Write to or visit your politicians. Urge your government to support a Nuclear Weapons Convention. For tips on effective lobbying, visit our website (


Build our support base. Encourage your organizations— churches, unions, professional groups etc.—to become ICAN partners. Safeguarding our future is everyone’s business.


Sign up your mayor. Encourage your mayor to join more than two thousand other mayors worldwide calling for nuclear weapons to be abolished (


Organize a public event. Bring people together for a town hall meeting, movie night or concert to support the abolition of nuclear weapons. And make your voices heard!


Write a letter to the editor. Let the public know that you support nuclear weapons abolition. For tips on writing a good letter to the editor of your local newspaper, visit our website. 3

the risk It’s five minutes to midnight The Doomsday Clock (left) is the most universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to nuclear destruction. The minute hand moves forwards or backwards according to world events. Midnight represents the end of civilization. MI











5 mins 10 mins 15 mins

support for abolition A staggering 73 per cent of Americans and 63 per cent of Russians support the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.





63% Russians


$ 4

nuclear weapons spending The US alone spends $40 billion each year on its nuclear weapons—enough to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. All other nuclear-armed countries are also guilty of spending huge sums of money on their nuclear arsenals.

why abolition is achievable


A majority of nations want a nuclear weapons ban


There’s a draft treaty to make abolition happen

At least 127 countries—including China, India, Pakistan and North Korea—support the abolition of nuclear weapons through a binding Nuclear Weapons Convention. The Model NWC is a draft treaty that would ban the production, possession and use of nuclear weapons, as well as establish ways to verify their elimination.


We’ve outlawed other types of weapons


Four countries have given up nuclear weapons


More and more people are calling for abolition

These include chemical weapons, biological weapons and landmines. Now we must turn our attention to banning the worst weapons of all, nuclear weapons. South Africa was the first, followed by former Soviet states Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. More than a dozen other countries have abandoned nuclear weapons programs. Many former political leaders have begun urging their governments to ban nuclear weapons, and some military heads have questioned the utility of these weapons of terror.




Nuclear weapons are no worse than other weapons

They are the only weapons capable of destroying the entire planet in a matter of hours. A single nuclear bomb, if dropped on a city, could kill millions of people.

Nuclear weapons no longer pose any real threat

There are still 26,000 nuclear weapons worldwide. Each directly threatens global security and human survival, and thousands are ready to be launched within minutes of an order.

It’s OK for some countries to have nuclear weapons

No country can be trusted with nuclear weapons. And so long as any country has them, others will want them. Nuclear weapons threaten rather than enhance security.

It’s unlikely that nuclear weapons will be used again

Unless we get rid of all nuclear weapons, they will be used again—intentionally or by accident—and the effect will be catastrophic. Abolition is necessary and achievable.

Nuclear weapons are a deterrent to terrorists

Terrorist groups and suicide bombers are not rational and cannot be deterred by counterthreats. Further, nations with nuclear weapons are the most attractive targets for terrorists.

Nuclear weapons can be used legitimately

Any use of nuclear weapons would kill indiscriminately. It would cause long-term and widespread human and environmental harm through radioactive fallout.

People don’t care about nuclear disarmament

Recent opinion polls show that the overwhelming majority of people across the globe believe that nuclear weapons should be banned and eliminated without further delay.

good news

bad news

>> There are fewer nuclear weapons today than during the Cold War: more than 40,000 have been dismantled.

>> Most countries with nuclear weapons are building new ones and expanding plans to use them.

>> Most countries believe that nuclear weapons threaten rather than enhance their security, and that is why they have chosen not to pursue them. >> Cooperation among nations has improved, including between the United States and Russia, which possess 95 per cent of all nuclear weapons in the world. >> More countries than ever before are calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention to ban nuclear weapons.


>> Nine countries now have the bomb: the more fingers on the triggers, the more likely it is they will be used. >> Many nuclear weapons systems have become old and faulty, increasing the risk of accidental use. >> The spread of nuclear power means that many countries now have the know-how and means to create nuclear weapons. >> Most of today’s nuclear weapons are much more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.


A world free of nuclear weapons is a good, safe place to be—a decent place, free of the dishonour of threatening to kill tens of millions of our fellow human beings. We should go there. – Jonathan Schell 7

BANNING THE BOMB a nuclear weapons convention A Nuclear Weapons Convention is a comprehensive treaty to ban nuclear weapons and ensure their elimination. Countries are legally required to negotiate such a treaty, and experts have already produced a draft text. They argue that an NWC is more likely to succeed than a series of fragmented and inconsistent approaches to nuclear disarmament. The draft treaty is modelled on similar conventions outlawing chemical weapons, biological weapons and anti-personnel landmines. It would complement rather than undermine existing nuclear weapons treaties, such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is feasible, necessary and long overdue.

Quick talk s ...

It took just 10 days of determined negotiation for countries to conclude the Partial Te st Ban Treaty prohibiting ab ove-ground nuclear test explosions.


The NWC would prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as the production of fissile material suitable for making them (either highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium). It would require all nucleararmed countries to destroy their nuclear weapons in stages (see opposite), the last being to place all fissile material under international control to prevent nuclear weapons ever being made again.

Question 2: The world’s first nuclearweapon-free zone covered which icy geographical region? (Answer p13)

The NWC would establish an agency to ensure that countries comply with the terms of the treaty. This body would receive progress reports from nuclear-armed states, conduct inspections of weapons facilities, acquire intelligence through satellite photography and remote sensors, and monitor the production and transfer of materials suitable for making nuclear weapons.






Take nuclear weapons off hairtrigger alert Remove nuclear weapons from deployment Remove the warheads from their delivery vehicles Disable the warheads by removing the explosive “pits� Place the fissile material under United Nations control.

want a ban? do countries NATIONS FOR







United Kingdom

















Question 3: Which country has conducted more nuclear test explosions than any other? (Answer p13)

the nuclear-armed nations




the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. Several thousand of its 10,000 nuclear weapons are kept on hair-trigger alert—ready to be launched within minutes. n RUSSIA. Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal of any country in the world, consisting of some 15,000 warheads. Many are on hair-trigger alert, while about 5000 are awaiting dismantlement.

200 or so nuclear weapons are all submarine-based. At any given time, one such submarine is on patrol. The service life for these vessels will soon end, presenting an ideal opportunity for the UK to show leadership and disarm. n FRANCE. Most of France’s 350 nuclear weapons are submarinebased. The government has threatened to use them against states found to be supporting terrorism against France.

Good ne ws ... Fo

United States


ur nuclear-a countries— rmed Ch India, Nort ina, h Korea an d Pakistan— have expre ssed support fo r a Nuclear Weapons C onvention.

hosting nukes Six European countries host US nuclear weapons on their soil as part of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization nuclearsharing arrangement. They are Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

number of nuclear weapons around the world

Countries with nuclear weapons


n CHINA. China has an arsenal

of roughly 130 nuclear weapons and has said it would use them only in response to a nuclear attack. n ISRAEL. Israel will officially neither confirm nor deny that it has nuclear weapons, and little is publicly known about the size and composition of its arsenal. It’s the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East. n INDIA. India has roughly 50 nuclear weapons and has said it

Countries without nuclear weapons


would use them in retaliation for an attack involving any kind of weapons of mass destruction. n PAKISTAN. Pakistan, which borders India, has a stockpile thought to consist of about 50 nuclear warheads. It has said it would be willing to use nuclear weapons in response to an attack involving conventional weapons. n NORTH KOREA. The newest member of the nuclear club, North Korea has no more than 10 “small” nuclear warheads. 11

victims of the nuclear age The only use of nuclear weapons in warfare occurred at the end of World War II, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At least 145,000 innocent people died instantly, and a total of 210,000 had died by the end of 1945. Due to radiation, rates of cancer in survivors are still rising. The only way to guarantee that this doesn’t happen again is to abolish nuclear weapons. Many thousands of people have also become sick and died because of the 2059 nuclear test explosions that have taken place since the first atomic bomb was created. The nuclear power and uranium mining industries also have many victims. Question 4: What were “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”? (Answer p13)


quotable notables

By far the single greatest danger facing humankind —in fact, all living beings on our planet—is the threat of nuclear destruction. The Dalai Lama

We are told by some governments that a Nuclear Weapons Convention is premature and unlikely. Don’t believe it. We were told the same thing about a mine ban treaty. Jody Williams, Nobel laureate

In a nuclear war there would be no victors, only victims. The truth of peace requires that all ... strive for a progressive and concerted nuclear disarmament. Pope Benedict XVI

U THE EFFECTS of a 1-megaton nuclear bomb

within 3km

A radioactive fireball hotter than the sun and with the force of one million tons of TNT kills and vaporizes everyone.

within 5km

The vast majority of people die quickly from blast injuries, asphyxiation in spreading fires or acute radiation sickness.

About half die from trauma and burns. Many succumb soon within 10km after to fires and radiation. No medical care functions. Shattered windows and other within 20km flying debris can be lethal. Anyone looking at the blast is within 80km blinded. Over the following months and years, many tens of thousands will die from radiation sickness or later cancers.

ities Today’s c

size bomb A Hiroshimaa modern dropped on rectly city could di than a e or m cause alties. million casu 13

Answers: 1) Mutually assured destruction; 2) Antarctica; 3) United States; 4) The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The abolition of nuclear weapons is possible, necessary and increasingly urgent. Be a part of the movement to make it happen.


A nuclear disaster will not hit at the speed of a glacier melting; it will hit with a blast. It will not hit with the speed of the atmosphere warming but of a city burning. Clearly, the attention focused on nuclear weapons should be as prominent as that of global climate change. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of California

Find out more:

true or false?

Several dozen countries currently possess nuclear weapons. The number of nuclear weapons worldwide is in the tens of thousands. Most countries that have acquired nuclear weapons have now given them up. There are more nuclear weapons today than at the height of the Cold War. Most nuclear weapons are in the arsenals of Russia and the United States. Answers: 1) False; 2) True; 3) False; 4) False; 5) True

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


ICAN Minimag  
ICAN Minimag  

All the basic facts about nuclear weapons!