Use of biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions has been prohibited. Will a treaty to ban nuclear weapons be next?

 The global summit will be held in the United Nations HQ in New York from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to 7 July 2017 Earlier UN talks recommended negotiations for a nuclear weapons ban treaty

Civil society continues its 70 year long fight against nuclear weapons with many taking part in campaigning and activism all around the world. In January, an ICANW document: Briefing – International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons notifies readers that at the same time as the United States prepares for Donald Trump’s inauguration and takeover of the nuclear launch codes, the rest of the world is preparing to prohibit nuclear weapons, in the same way as the international community successfully prohibited biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.

Negotiations are now under way to set up a treaty to ban the most destructive weapon of them all: nuclear weapons. This treaty could be a unique tool in making real progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons. But to date: North Korea, Britain and Australia will not send an official representative to the conference. A list of the 101 states that attended the preparatory meeting on 16th February may be seen here:

A reader sent this link to an outline by Dr Philip Webber, Scientists for Global Responsibility, of the key scientific and technological information on the threat from these weapons of mass destruction. The text on its website opens:  

“Concern about nuclear weapons is again high. Whether you’re worried about Donald Trump now having his finger on the button, North Korea’s latest missile test or the misfire by the UK’s Trident system, the risk that these weapons may once again be used is increasingly in the public mind.

Yet, despite this, there has been very little media attention devoted to upcoming UN negotiations – beginning on 27 March in New York – on a treaty to ban these weapons of mass destruction. These negotiations are supported by over 100 governments, the International Red Cross and many civil society organisations.

“In the run-up to the negotiations, SGR is publishing a series of short online articles (with a new one each day or so) to help public understanding of what is at stake. We will summarise key scientific and technological background information – for example, about the destructive capabilities of the various weapons held by the nuclear-armed states. The articles will be fully referenced so that readers can dig deeper into the issues if they wish.


  1. What is a nuclear weapon?
  2. Nuclear weapons: the basic science
  3. How many nuclear weapons are there?
  4. How much destructive power do the nuclear-armed nations have?


For brief updates see ICANW’s:





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