For Immediate Release: Jan. 17, 2023
Media Contacts: Daryl 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.