Although the overall number of nuclear weapons has been dramatically reduced from some 65,000 to some 15,000 since the peak of the Cold War, the process for their elimination, despite legal commitments to that goal, remains slow.
Instead of reducing their roles in security doctrines, some states now envisage scenarios of use of nuclear weapons and long-term modernization plans are under way. Existing stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium could allow manufacturing some 144,000 additional nuclear weapons. According to former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, “Today, the danger of some sort of a nuclear catastrophe is greater than it was during the Cold War and most people are blissfully unaware of this danger.”
After prohibiting or restricting the use of several categories of weapons of mass destruction (chemical and biological) or conventional weapons (antipersonnel landmines, cluster munitions, autonomous weapons) because of their potential impact on civilians, the international community is now contemplating a legal ban on nuclear weapons for the same reasons. But some states still grant greater priority to protecting their national security with nuclear weapons over ensuring the human security of the world’s population. Similarly, despite devastating accidents in the civilian nuclear industry (Chernobyl, Fukushima) as well as the risk of terrorist use of nuclear materials, decisions of governments to renounce that form of energy are marginal compared to the plans for developing it in several countries. The nuclear industry and its supporters still claim that it is safe, reliable and cost effective.
A panel of experts in the nuclear field will discuss those questions and share their experience and knowledge with the audience.
Maison de la Paix
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