top of page

Time to Eliminate All Nuclear Weapons

More than 100 eminent medical journals from around the world have taken an unprecedented step by advocating for the elimination of all nuclear weapons in response to the current crisis in the Ukraine and the rising dangers of war between nuclear-armed states.

This call's importance is emphasised, not only because it affects global security but also because it is a top concern for public health. The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which sponsored the editorial, emphasises the inadequacy of present non-proliferation measures and the necessity for prompt action to address the problem's underlying causes.

There are valid worries about the possibility of a nuclear conflict in light of the recent events in Ukraine, including Russia's invasion and the escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It is crucial to remember that even a small nuclear conflict will have disastrous repercussions.

According to research, 120 million people might die directly in a nuclear conflict involving just 2% of all nuclear weapons in existence. Additionally, a full-scale nuclear conflict between nuclear heavyweights like the US and Russia may trigger a horrific "nuclear winter," resulting in historic levels of death and damage.

The impact of nuclear war now would be significantly worse than the horrific occurrences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, where up to 200,000 Japanese citizens perished. This is something that the medical specialists remind us of. Beyond the immediate victims, the long-term health effects of nuclear testing and radiation exposure still have an impact on individuals today.

As a striking reminder of the destruction that nuclear weapons may cause, the call for their elimination comes on the same day as the anniversary of the American nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The belief that nuclear war poses a serious threat to not only human lives but also to the planet's vital life support systems is what motivates the medical community's campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons.

While some experts contend that complete denuclearization could increase the likelihood of a catastrophic war, the medical journals suggest other measures to lower nuclear hazards. These include enacting a "no first use" rule, deactivating nuclear weapons from "hair-trigger alert," and obtaining a public guarantee from warring governments that they will not use nuclear weapons in hostilities. These measures can act as interim safeguards while pursuing the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear arsenals altogether.

Some governments who contend that security concerns make denuclearization in the short term impossible are not likely to welcome the demand for action. The position of the medical community, however, emphasises how crucial it is to prioritise public health and global safety before immediate geopolitical concerns.

The recent proposal by the US government to reopen nuclear negotiations with China and Russia "without preconditions" is a step in the right direction, but it needs to be supported by real initiatives for total disarmament. The issues of disarmament must be addressed by dialogue and diplomacy, and nuclear-armed states must agree to serious negotiations.

Nuclear weapons have undoubtedly changed world politics by removing major power conflict from the discussion. Nuclear weapons still pose a threat, and the repercussions of their use - or even inadvertent deployment - would be too grave to be disregarded. We must endeavour to eliminate nuclear weapons as responsible global citizens.


bottom of page