Canadian Nuclear Weapon Abolitionists Call on U.K. to Reconsider Warhead Increase

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) joins with other disarmament organizations critical of the nuclear weapons policy shift of the government of the United Kingdom.

CNANW Statement March 25, 2021

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) joins with other disarmament organizations critical of the nuclear weapons policy shift of the government of the United Kingdom. The British defence and foreign policy review, “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, would increase the number of nuclear weapons in the U.K. arsenal. It would also extend the declared purposes of nuclear deterrence to a wider range of perceived threats. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cautioned that “there are already too many nuclear warheads in the world, not too few.” He added: “The past has shown that if one side has more nuclear weapons, the other side will try to catch up. And that is the disastrous arms race we have been in for decades.”

We urge the government of British Prime Minister Johnson to reverse these regressive and provocative steps as they are in violation of treaty obligations. They carry the inherent risk of re-fueling both a nuclear and conventional arms race.

Instead of reducing to a maximum of 180 nuclear warheads from the current 195, as previously promised, the new plan moves in the opposite direction by increasing the Trident-purposed arsenal to a new cap of 260 warheads. In contrast to limiting the scope of nuclear deterrence and moving towards full elimination as required by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the UK’s declared policy is being extended to “emerging technologies” and to a wider range of weapons of mass destruction.

Three former Canadian U.N. Disarmament Ambassadors quickly reacted to the U.K. policy shift.

The Honourable Douglas Roche O.C. stated that:

On February 26, 2020, the United Kingdom joined a unanimous statement by the U.N. Security Council calling on all states parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to cooperate in nuclear disarmament measures. What happened to suddenly move the U.K. government to increase its nuclear arsenal by 40 percent?  This appears to be the U.K. response to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. So much for the humanitarian movement against nuclear weapons! Power politics rears its ugly head once more. This unconscionable act, which drives ahead the nuclear arms race, jeopardizes the success of the NPT Review Conference later this year. Canada must join Germany in criticizing the U.K.’s reckless act.

Peggy Mason, who heads the Rideau Institute, further said that:

The new UK defence policy reduces transparency in that country’s operational stockpile and deployed warheads. It also expands the circumstances in which it would use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT, beyond weapons of mass destruction, to include threats from unspecified “emerging technologies” of “comparable impact”.   It is hard to see these extraordinarily destabilizing actions as anything other than a desperately diminished post-Brexit Britain struggling to maintain some semblance of global prestige.

And Paul Meyer, who is also the Chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group, notes that:

At the last NPT Review Conference in 2015, the UK delivered a statement committing to limit operationally deployed warheads on its ballistic missile submarines to no more than 120 and to reduce its overall nuclear warhead stockpile to no more than 180 by the mid-2020s. The announced change in UK nuclear policy represents a betrayal of that pledge and sends the worst of all possible signals to the NPT community in the lead up to its August Review Conference. In 2015 the UK promised “to strive to build conditions for a world without nuclear weapons”. Doesn’t Prime Minister Johnson’s Government realize that increasing nuclear arsenals is not one of the ways to get to that goal?

CNANW joins many others in challenging the rationale of the UK’s decision. Whatever the political reasons for the redirection of official United Kingdom defence policy, CNANW sees the proposal as an affront to the entry into force of the two-month-old Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and as a challenge to this year’s planned Review Conference deliberations for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

We call on the Canadian government to clearly state its disappointment to its NATO ally, to urge caution and press Prime Minister Johnson to reverse the implementation of a policy that would lead to a more dangerous world with a greater likelihood of proliferation of nuclear weapons.

In these days of pandemics and other global stresses, the world requires sober and thoughtful vision, with leadership that pulls us together for shared mutual security and risk reduction goals. We need to avoid — not increase — global risks from dangerous, and regressive policy changes.

Robin Collins and Dr. Sylvie Lemieux
CNANW Co-Chairpersons

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) was established in 1996 by representatives of national organizations that share the conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral and should be abolished.

Peggy Mason: Canada — From nuclear disarmament stalwart to nuclear weapons apologist

“To understand the extent of Canada’s retreat from staunch defender of meaningful steps towards increased nuclear restraint and eventual disarmament to the shocking role of U.S. nuclear weapons apologist, it is necessary to review the position of Canada in the context of the NPT and NATO.” (Peggy Mason is President of the Rideau Institute.)

Download pdf here: From nuclear disarmament stalwart to nuclear weapons apologist

Letter to Prime Minster Trudeau: Seeking Canadian action to lessen nuclear risk

January 31, 2017
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
RE: Canadian Emergency Response Plan

With the Presidency of Mr. Trump, we are urgently seeking your engagement in an emergency response plan to confront the possible use of nuclear weapons by President Trump. He has been quoted as saying “If we have [nuclear weapons], why can’t we use them?” President Trump has joined the small group of “leaders” who claim the right to kill millions of people to protect their country’s interests. It is clear he is a man of little patience, no diplomatic expertise, no military or conflict resolutions skills. His control of “the button” places the global community in grave danger.

We call on you to use your considerable skill in inspiring communications and clear thinking to urgently lessen and eliminate the nuclear threat. We believe you have the capacity to ensure a more secure future for your family and our families, and indeed the global family.

More specifically, we would propose that you personally take these steps:

1. During your first meeting with President Trump, propose a Reykjavik-style bilateral summit between him and President Putin to discuss how they could further reduce nuclear arsenals and work together to pursue global nuclear disarmament.

2. Publicly commend President Xi’s proposal for nuclear disarmament, to press China for CTBT ratification and to actively explore with China ways to pursue nuclear disarmament on an urgent basis.

3. Seek cooperation with like-minded leaders of NATO member states to promote reduced Allied reliance on a nuclear deterrent and to make an active contribution to creating the conditions necessary for a “world without nuclear weapons”.

4. Direct Canadian diplomats to engage in upcoming negotiations on a legal instrument prohibiting nuclear weapons and in all other processes that will advance nuclear disarmament

5. Strongly support public advocacy on the increased threat of a nuclear weapons exchange and the need for urgent work toward nuclear disarmament.

We recognize the load on you has been heavy but want to assure you that should a nuclear exchange occur, a legacy of environmental agreements and pipelines will be irrelevant. There can be no greater 150th Birthday gift to Canada than one of increased security for Canadians and the global community.

Bev Tollefson Delong
Chairperson, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

This letter has been endorsed by the following groups:
Canadian Peace Initiative(CPI)
Canadian Pugwash Group
Physicians for Global Survival
Religions for Peace Canada
Vancouver Island Peace and Disarmament Network
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Nanaimo Chapter

Lettre au premier ministre: “pour vous presser de faire de la désescalade de crise”

Monsieur le premier ministre, Le Réseau canadien pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires et le Rassemblement canadien pour une convention sur les armes nucléaires s’adressent à vous et à votre gouvernement, en cette crise nucléaire mondiale qui s’intensifie chaque jour, pour vous presser de faire de la désescalade de crise et d’une diplomatie persistante et intensifiée en matière de désarmement, une priorité nationale.

Lettre ici

Letter to PM, July 2018, from 9 Canadian NGOs regarding leadership in NATO

Subject: NATO Summit in Brussels – July 2018

May 25, 2018

Dear Minister Freeland and Ambassador Buck,

Please find enclosed a Statement setting out our recommendations for Canadian action with respect to the upcoming NATO Summit in Brussels.  We would very much appreciate receiving your views on these proposals and hearing about your plan for making progress at the Summit.  Kindly send your responses to this email and I will ensure their circulation among these (and other concerned) Canadian groups.

This Statement has been endorsed by the following Canadian groups:

Boundary Peace Initiative
B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition.
Canadian Federation of University Women
Canadian Pugwash Group
Project Ploughshares
Science for Peace
Religions for Peace Canada
The Rideau Institute
World Federalist Movement – Canada

Thank you for your attention.

Best regards,
Bev Delong

Les d’Églises pressent l’OTAN


Les d’Églises pressent l’OTAN d’éliminer au plus tôt les armes nucléaires
Le Conseil canadien des Églises

le 13 avril 1999

Très honorable Jean Chrétien
Premier ministre du Canada
Chambre des Communes
Ottawa K1A 0A6

c.c. Hon. Lloyd Axworthy, ministre des Affaires étrangères

Monsieur le Premier ministre,

La présente lettre est une initiative conjointe de la Conference of European Churches, du National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA et du Canadian Council of Churches/Conseil canadien des Églises.

Nous invitons votre gouvernement, de même que l¹ensemble de l¹OTAN, à profiter de la révision en cours du Concept stratégique de l¹OTAN pour renverser l¹affirmation de cette dernière, voulant que les armes nucléaires «jouent un rôle essentiel» et de rejeter l¹assertion selon laquelle les forces nucléaires stratégiques de l¹alliance constituent la «garantie suprême de la sécurité des alliés» (Concept stratégique de l¹OTAN, approuvé en novembre 1991).

Dans sa version révisée, le Concept stratégique se doit d¹engager les membres de l¹OTAN à
éliminer au plus tôt les armes nucléaires et à réduire au maximum la valeur politique qu¹on leur attribue.

Contrairement à ce qu¹affirme le Concept stratégique actuel de l¹OTAN, les armes nucléaires ne garantissent pas la sécurité et ne peuvent le faire. Tout ce qu¹elles entraînent, c¹est le danger et l¹insécurité, car elles risquent d¹annihiler toute forme vie et de dévaster l¹ensemble de l¹écosystème dont toute vie dépend.

Les armes nucléaires ne détiennent aucune légitimité morale, sans compter que leur utilité militaire demeure ambiguë. Selon l¹avis consultatif de la Cour internationale de Justice, même leur légalité en vertu du droit international est sérieusement mise en doute. La Cour internationale de Justice, dont on a sollicité l¹avis, affirmait qu¹«il existe une obligation de poursuivre de bonne foi et de mener à terme des négociations conduisant au désarmement nucléaire dans tous ses aspects.»

Nous pressons donc tous les gouvernements des États membres de l¹OTAN de faire en sorte que le nouveau Concept stratégique de l¹OTAN :

* affirme l¹appui de l¹OTAN à l¹élimination immédiate, de tout armement nucléaire et engage l¹Alliance à prendre systématiquement des mesures en vue de la réalisation de cet objectif;

* engage l¹OTAN à réduire la cote d¹alerte des armes nucléaires en la possession de ses États membres et à conclure des ententes efficaces ayant pour objectif l¹élimination de la cote d¹alerte des armes nucléaires dont disposent tous les États;

* renonce à l¹emploi en premier d¹armes nucléaires par les membres de l¹OTAN, en toutes
circonstances, et engage l¹OTAN à faire tout en son possible pour obtenir des engagements
similaires de la part des autres États possesseurs d¹armes nucléaires.

Soyez assuré, Monsieur le Premier ministre, de nos prières et de notre appui en ces moments où vos responsabilités sont plus lourdes que jamais.

Janet Somerville, secrétaire générale
Conseil canadien des Églises
2nd floor, 3250 Bloor Street W.
Toronto (Ontario) M8X 2Y4

Au nom de: Joan Brown Campbell, secrétaire générale
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA
475 Riverside Drive, Room 880
New York, NY, 10115-0050, USA

Et de: Keith Clements, secrétaire général
Conference of European Churches
1211 Genève 2, Suisse



In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

In what ways does Canada support nuclear war-fighting?

The Government of Canada provides:

  • political, military and financial support for NATO and NORAD
  • airspace and facilities for nuclear bomber training/li>
  • approval for port visits by nuclear-armed submarines/li>
  • maintenance for communications sites for nuclear forces/li>
  • permission for deployment of bombers and support forces to Canadian airfields during nuclear crises/li>
  • support for production and export of components for nuclear weapon delivery vehicles, such as bombers and submarines

Although NATO has reduced its reliance on nuclear weapons, those states persist in relying on nuclear weapons as a “credible and effective element of the Alliance’s strategy of preventing war.”  Such statements serve to encourage other states to acquire nuclear weapons.  NATO has taken no steps to comply with the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons.  To find their current view, review the Final Communiqués out of the most recent Meetings of the Defence Planning Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group at:

See also Canada and nuclear weapons: Canadian policies related to, and connections to, nuclear weapons
Ploughshares working paper 02-5 by Bill Robinson