In order to show the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Lloyd Axworthy, that they have the support of the Canadian academic community in making a strong call for nuclear abolition, the Canadian Pugwash Committee and Science for Peace have circulated the following appeal for signing by current and retired Professors in Universities and Colleges.
Humanity is poised at the beginning of a new millennium with 30,000 nuclear weapons. This situation is one of danger and insecurity.
Nuclear weapons cannot be regarded as safe, for the following reasons:
- Risks of accident or inadvertent use are real and ever present.
- Weak state control over nuclear materials implies a risk of their possession and use by terrorist groups.
- As the recent testings by India and Pakistan indicate, the threat of nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of conflict-ridden states is very real.
- Common experience provides ample evidence that in highly complex systems requiring persistent interface of human and technological aspects, things will go wrong.
Fundamentally, it is not credible that humankind should possess nuclear weapons in perpetuity and that they should never again be used. To avoid the humanitarian and ecological catastrophe that a use of nuclear weapons would entail, these weapons must be eliminated. This moral and prudential conclusion has the support of international legal opinion as rendered by the World Court, which pronounced in 1996 that the nuclear powers have an obligation to negotiate complete nuclear disarmament.
In light of the destructive potential of nuclear weapons, we understand that it is a fundamental moral and legal obligation of the people and nations of the world to pursue the abolition of these weapons with the utmost urgency and seriousness. To this end, we strongly urge the government of Canada to support the call to all nuclear weapons states to commit themselves unequivocally to the abolition of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capability.
Practical steps to lessen the risk of accidental explosion must be taken immediately.