Member Publications

Peace, still a Canadian value?

Artistes pour la Paix and Pugwash Canada (author Pierre Jasmin) 2017-03-23

Canada has gained respect throughout the world for choosing to work for the common good and real democracy, rather than follow the paths of militarism, colonialism and corporate domination. For example:

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Nuclear, incoming?

Letter to editor of the Globe and Mail from Frank Sommers, 21 March 2017

Re The Cassandras Are Warning Of Nuclear Doom – So Why Doesn’t Canada Seem To Care? (March 18):

Elizabeth Renzetti’s review of the resurgent threat posed by nuclear weapons brings to mind physicians’ efforts to educate the public and political leaders about the catastrophic medical consequences a nuclear strike would present.

I quote from a 1982 City of Toronto pamphlet we helped to prepare: “A one-megaton (70 times the destructive power of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) nuclear weapon detonated in the air above downtown Toronto during business hours would kill 750,000 people immediately and severely injure more than a million others; if detonated during the early evening, it would kill 624,000 residents and severely injure another 795,000. It would destroy 65- to 80 per cent of all the city’s hospital beds, along with blood banks, antibiotics, sterile supplies, diagnostic and life-support systems, operating theatres and emergency treatment centres. The blast would kill more than 5,000 physicians, leaving only one doctor for every 1,000 survivors – with only a little black bag for assistance.”

With our denser population, some 35 years later, these numbers would be higher. The devastating reality of nuclear arms calls on all of us, governments and citizens, to work to prevent their use.

Frank Sommers, MD, honorary and founding president, Canadian Physicians for Social Responsibility/Physicians for Global Survival

US first strike advantage heightens risk of nuclear war

Toronto Star article by John Polanyi, 20 March 2017

At the dawn of the nuclear age, its principal architect, Robert Oppenheimer, spoke of a stable standoff between nuclear powers. They would be held back from attacking one another by mutual fear, instead circling endlessly “like a pair of scorpions trapped in a bottle.”

Subsequently, political scientist Albert Wohlstetter pointed out that this stability would be lost if a situation arose in which advantage accrued to the first to attack. Then deterrence would at best be “a delicate balance of terror.”

Unknown to most, the balance is today at its most delicate. President Trump has inherited from previous administrations a balance of power tilted so far in favour of the U.S. that it might be advised at some awful moment of crisis to resort to a “first strike.”

Maintaining peace between the superpowers under these conditions will demand the highest level of skill and restraint from the two leaders. The auguries for this are not promising, since the delicacy of the balance has been hidden from public view.

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The Arctic and the Seaborne Nuclear Arms Race

By: Ernie Regehr | January 28, 2017 | Originally published on

Headlines tell of a burgeoning Russian/American naval nuclear arms race and already tens of billions of dollars are being promised and spent in both countries on “modernizing” seaborne strategic nuclear weapons systems. While tactical nuclear weapons have been kept off their attack and general purpose submarines for at least a generation, there are indications they may be finding their way back. In the meantime, there is not yet any international regime or treaty or political will in place or contemplated for the exercise of seaborne nuclear restraint.

Read the full paper on the Simons Foundation website (pdf, 8 pages)

Trump’s Nuclear Weapon Policy: A loose cannon in the White House?

Following President-elect Donald Trump’s comments on U.S. nuclear capabilities over the holidays, 2017 begins with worrisome questions about his intentions.

By: Paul Meyer | January 3, 2017 | Originally published on

Recent utterances by President-elect Donald Trump on U.S. nuclear weapon policy have sent shock waves over the past two weeks through the international security community. Calling for the U.S. to “greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” his comments have prompted new concerns based on both his personality and his eventual policies.

How would this man respond to an international crisis or provocation? Would he seek paths of escalation or de-escalation? Would he rely on professional counsel or make his own decisions based on his mood that day or his selective, idiosyncratic processing of information?

These concerns are not entirely new. “Would you trust this man with the nuclear codes?” Hillary Clinton asked during the election campaign last year. The question resonated as Trump’s temperament, his impulsiveness and quickness to anger seemed ill-matched to the cool sobriety one would want to have in a Commander-in-Chief.

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