"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Chris Rostampour

Over 1,000 Scientists Condemn All Threats to Use Nuclear Weapons



For Immediate Release: Jan. 17, 2023

Media ContactsDaryl G. Kimball, Member of the Steering Committee, Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction (202) 463-8270 ext 107; Chris Rostampour, Policy and Communications Coordinator, Physicists Coalition for Nuclear Threat Reduction  (202) 463-8270, ext 103

(Washington D.C./New York) — From the beginning of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly issued threats to use nuclear weapons. As the war continues into 2023, the risk of nuclear war remains high.

In response, a group of more than 1,000 scientists across various fields issued a joint statement, condemning all threats to use nuclear weapons.

In the statement, which was delivered to key governments and decision-makers today, the scientists “… state unequivocally that any threat to use nuclear weapons, at any time and under any circumstances, is extremely dangerous and totally unacceptable. We call on all people and governments everywhere to clearly condemn all nuclear threats, explicit or implicit, and any use of such weapons.”

The scientists' statement warns that: “Once nuclear weapons are used in a conflict, particularly between nuclear-armed adversaries, there is a risk that it could lead to an all-out nuclear conflagration.”

“If the United States or NATO were to launch a nuclear retaliatory strike against Russia in response to a Russian nuclear attack in Ukraine,” the scientists’ statement notes, “it would create significant risk of an escalatory cycle of nuclear destruction.”

U.S. President Joseph Biden said in early October, “I don’t think there’s any such thing as an ability to easily use a tactical nuclear weapon and not end up with Armageddon.”

“Today, it is widely understood that there can be no adequate humanitarian response following the use of nuclear weapons,” the statement notes. “Nuclear weapons kill and injure people immediately and indiscriminately, destroy cities, and contaminate the soil, water, and atmosphere with radioactivity. The smoke from burning cities in a nuclear war could darken and cool Earth’s surface for years, devastating global food production and ecosystems and causing worldwide starvation.”

“Despite this, all nine nuclear-armed states are investing in sustaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals and have plans to use them to wage nuclear war if they choose. So long as countries possess these weapons of mass destruction, there is a risk they will be used. Threats to use nuclear weapons, especially in a time of war, make their use more likely,” the scientists write.

The scientists’ statement adds to the chorus of voices warning against the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons by any nuclear-armed states for any reason.

In June 2022 the 65 states-parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons issued a political statement noting that “…any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations” and condemning “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” In November 2022, the Group of 20 states agreed that threats and use of nuclear weapons are “inadmissible.”

Since the beginning of the nuclear age, scientists have warned governments and publics what these terrible weapons can do. In 1946, the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, chaired by Albert Einstein, warned the world about nuclear weapons, calling for their elimination and declaring that otherwise, “If war breaks out, atomic bombs will be used, and they will surely destroy our civilization.”

“With this statement, we add our voices to those already speaking out about the immense danger posed by nuclear weapons and call for immediate and concrete actions towards their elimination,” the January 2023 scientists’ statement concludes.

The scientists’ statement was delivered to the office of the UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, the office of the President-elect of the UN General Assembly, Csaba Kőrösi, as well as the permanent missions of the United Nations member states in New York.

Among the 1,000 signatories are several Nobel Prize laureates and Shaw Prize winners, members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and hundreds of other distinguished scientists from across the United States and around the globe.

The full text of the statement and list of signatories is available online.


In a statement, which was delivered to key governments this week, 1,000 scientists “… state unequivocally that any threat to use nuclear weapons, at any time and under any circumstances, is extremely dangerous and totally unacceptable. We call on all people and governments everywhere to clearly condemn all nuclear threats, explicit or implicit, and any use of such weapons.”

U.S., Marshall Islands Grapple With Nuclear Legacy

November 2022
By Daryl G. Kimball and Chris Rostampour

Negotiators from the Marshall Islands are insisting that the United States address long-standing health and environmental problems created by U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific Island chain in their discussions on an agreement governing their relationship.

Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands was the site of 23 nuclear tests conducted by the United States from 1946 until 1958 that did untold damage to the coral reef and its inhabitants, who were forcibly relocated. (Library of Congress)The agreement, known as the Compact of Free Association, defines the terms of U.S. economic assistance, allows Marshallese to live and work in the United States, and grants the United States the right to operate military facilities in the region, including Kwajalein Missile Range. It also excludes activities by the militaries of other countries without U.S. permission.

U.S. and Marshallese representatives began negotiations earlier this year on renewing the 20-year-old compact, which expires in October 2023. In March, U.S. President Joe Biden appointed Joseph Yun as a special presidential envoy for the negotiations.

In September, the Marshallese delegation declared a pause in the negotiations until Washington shows greater willingness to address ongoing health, environmental, and economic issues resulting from Cold War-era testing in their homeland.

The 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear weapons tests between 1946 and 1958—23 at Bikini Atoll and 44 at Enewetak Atoll—spewed radiation over the Marshall Islands and produced a total explosive power of 108.5 megatons (TNT equivalent). That was about 100 times the total yield of all atmospheric tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site in the United States.

As a result, islanders still suffer such health and environmental effects as elevated cancer rates and enduring displacement from contaminated areas. But to this day, the only individuals considered by the United States as exposed to radiation effects were those physically present at Rogelap, Ailinginae, or Utrok atolls at the time of the “Bravo” nuclear test on March 1, 1954.

The chair of the Marshall Island’s National Nuclear Commission, Alson Kelen, told Agence France-Presse, “We know the big picture: bombs tested, people relocated from their islands, people exposed to nuclear fallout. We can’t change that. What we can do now is work on the details for the funding needed to mitigate the problems from the nuclear legacy.”

The U.S. State Department released a statement on Sept. 23 saying that Yun is prepared “to continue to advance the discussions” with the government of the Marshall Islands.

At a two-day summit in Washington that ended Sept. 29 between the United States and representatives from 14 Pacific Island states, including the Marshall Islands, participants agreed to strengthen their partnership. Although the United States had reportedly objected to such language in the run-up to the meeting, the joint summit statement acknowledged “the nuclear legacy of the Cold War” and stated that “the United States remains committed to addressing the Republic of the Marshall Islands’ ongoing environmental, public health…, and other welfare concerns.”

Under the existing agreement, the United States is responsible for providing radiation-related health care services and continued monitoring and environmental assessments on the affected atolls. One area of particular concern is Enewetak, where less than 1 percent of the plutonium and associated transuranic radionuclides from testing activities at the atoll are contained in the Runit Dome structure, meaning that the rest of the radioactive contamination remains in the Enewetak lagoon.

In a speech at the United Nations on Sept. 21, Marshall Islands President David Kabua said his nation has a “strong partnership” with the United States but “it is vital that the legacy and contemporary challenges of nuclear testing be better addressed.” Underscoring the importance of the issue for Pacific islanders, the Marshall Islands, with the backing of Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Australia, advanced a formal resolution at the UN Human Rights Council on Oct. 6 requesting assistance “in the field of human rights and to provide humanitarian assistance and capacity building” to the Marshall Islands’ National Nuclear Commission in advancing its national strategy for nuclear justice.

India, the United Kingdom, and the United States countered by saying the rights council was not the appropriate forum to discuss the issue. The U.S. delegate asserted that “the United States has accepted and acted on its responsibility to the people of the Republic of the Marshall Islands concerning nuclear testing” through the compact. Nevertheless, the resolution was adopted without a vote.

The Marshallese are pushing back against the U.S. failure to address problems resulting from U.S. nuclear tests.

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