A World Without Nuclear Weapons

At a UN side event we interns learned about nuclear weapons, and had a “science lesson” on how plutonium is made from uranium in a nuclear reactor. The plutonium in a bomb breaks down with an enormous release of energy and destruction. As it decays over hundreds of years, it continues to release radiation and it forms other radioactive substances, so waste from dismantling bombs also contaminates the environment and threatens human health. In Nagasaki people are still suffering the consequences of the bomb dropped 69 years ago.


The United Nations considers the use of nuclear weapons a violation of human rights. In 1984 the United Nations Human Rights Committee noted that “It is evident that the designing, testing, manufacture, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons are among the greatest threats to the right to life which confront mankind today,” and concluded that “The production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited and recognized as crimes against humanity.”


In spite of this, countries are still making them. There are now almost 16,300 nuclear weapons, and countries spend billions of dollars to maintain them. Testing the weapons is also destructive of human health and the environment. China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, the US and UK have collectively conducted over 2000 nuclear tests–approximately 500 above ground and the rest underground.


Today one child in nine goes to bed without food; many people need water, shelter, sanitation and health services. If we could cut the budget on weapons and spend the money for social services, all could have a better and happy life. I was impressed with the words of Barack Obama, the president of United States, “Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we are taking this bygone era apart, moving towards the world where these weapons no more threaten our children.”

–by Amitha Polimetla SDS