Does the work of nuclear disarmament groups prove that violence is not the answer to problems in the world today? Maybe so. The failure of MAD and the success of the Non-Violent Direct Action Movement are testaments to the survival and effectiveness of non-violent protest. One statement can be made, however, with great infallibility: The work of anti-nuclear groups was vital to the cause of nuclear disarmament, which then greatly diminished Cold War tensions. Finally, the masses realized that the government was not always looking to maintain peace, and that it would go to great lengths to preserve secrets and information that, at the government’s discretion, compromised “public safety”. This knowledge of government was vital during the Cold War, but more importantly it is needed if the public is to survive in the future.

The menace of nuclear attack has threatened the United States, as well as the world, since the invention of the atom bomb. The possibility of destroying entire cities with a single bomb has plagued the leaders of the world as the human race. This fear has controlled the military, America’s foreign affairs, and the health and welfare of the citizenry. MAD (mutually assured destruction) is not a tactic of war, but a tactic of extinction (Schell, FotE 95). At this point in history, humankind has the ability to annihilate itself, and it is the choice of the leaders of the world that affects this. Because of this, the United States should unilaterally disarm its nuclear weapons to contribute to the survival of the human race.


Nuclear weapons are the only things can destroy everything, and proliferation is growing every day. Keeping these arsenals is a threat; the deteriorating Russian nuclear arsenal is one of the biggest threats. Keeping this arsenal increases the chances of accidents, of more widespread proliferation, and of nuclear terrorism. “Only nuclear weapons can destroy the United States as a society and a nation.” (Goodpaster et al. 93-94). Global nuclear dangers are increasing as more countries move to develop nuclear weapons. In May 1998, India conducted five nuclear tests, and Pakistan responded with seven, starting the world’s first nuclear confrontation unrelated to the Cold War (Schell, “Folly” 34). The end of nonproliferation is in sight; Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are actively seeking to advance nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles (Martel 103). The world’s superpowers have failed in stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, and unless we disarm the world will have to pay the price.


The elimination of nuclear weapons is a gradual process but it is the ultimate solution to preventing a nuclear Armageddon. The U.S. is not the only country willing to disarm; both the United Kingdom and France have unilaterally reduced their nuclear stances by de-alerting and disarming a good portion of their nuclear arsenal. China still stands firm in their declaration of no first use of nuclear weapons (Canberra 8), and China will follow a U.S. and Russian lead in nuclear disarmament (Manning et al. 66). For all of this to happen, the U.S. must lead in disarmament, and this is a feasible task. With modern technology merged with monitoring networks, the world would have a reliable verification system. The U.S. is in control of its preservation, and if we lose control, then we may never get it back (Krass 200).

The mortality of the human race rests on the disarmament of these nuclear weapons. The very existence of nuclear weapons makes accidents inevitable. The United States must act now to avoid inevitable extinction. Robert Oppenheimer and others, including Albert Einstein, desired global disarmament, but this advice was disregarded. In its place, the world set about building the nuclear arsenals they retain today. “Unless we rid ourselves of our nuclear arsenals a holocaust not only might occur but will occur—if not today, then tomorrow; if not this year then the next. We have come to live on borrowed time: every year of continued human life on earth is a borrowed year, every day a borrowed day” (Schell, FotE 186-186). Now, with some thirty-thousand megatons of nuclear destruction in existence, and with that number being increased every day, we have entered the zone where we risk extinction. The risk of extinction is in its own category in terms of significance, and making the decision of disarmament must be made within that significance. “Up to now, every risk has been contained within the frame of life; extinction would shatter the frame” (Schell, FotE 95). Extinction is the ultimate in deciding an issue. There can be nothing worse; extinction is limitless and eternal: the extinction of the human race is not something to gamble with. The mere possibility of extinction is enough to warrant nuclear disarmament; extinction outweighs all, and unless something is done about it, it is inevitable.

For disarmament to work, it will take a lengthly step-by-step process in which each country must verify every other state's completion of each step. By disarming step-by-step instead of “tear(ing) out an existing nuclear weapons programme by its roots” (Fisher 50) allows for a certain level of security to be maintained (Fisher 50). This raises the feasibility of world without nuclear weapons to a doable point. Not to mention the money that will be saved, approximately $8.33 Billion dollars in a 10 year time period (“START”).

Nuclear disarmament is not only feasible but necessary task. Nuclear weapons are outdated and are only a threat to the country to which they are meant to defend. Deterrence has failed; America is not willing to use its nuclear weapons, and at any moment a nuclear standoff could escalate to full-scale nuclear war. Nonproliferation is a thing of the past; any country or terrorist group with the money could build its own nuclear weapons program and become part of the nuclear club. As more and more countries gain the technology the chance of a nuclear accident is high, even in superpower countries such as Russia, and such an accident could kill billions of people worldwide, and could even lead to extinction. Such possibilities are not to be taken lightly. In a statement by Jonathan Schell in Fate of the Earth, “Once we learn that a (nuclear)holocaust might lead to extinction we have no right to gamble, because if we lose, the game will be over, and neither we nor anyone else will ever get another chance” (Schell, FotE 95).

Works Cited

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Fischer, David, et al. A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: Steps Along the Way. Cambridge, MA: Pugwash Publishing, 2000.
Forrow, Lachlan. “From Danger to Prevention.” The New England Journal of Medicine 30 Apr. 1998: 1328-1329.
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Schell, Jonathan. The Fate of the Earth. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1984.
Schell, Jonathan. “The Folly of Arms Control.” Foreign Affairs Sep/Oct 2000: 34.
Stuck at First START. Nuclear Disarmament Partnership. 18 Feb. 2002. .
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