The struggle to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world has not made much press in the 21st century, partly due to the massive attention that nuclear armament received throughout much of the latter half of the 20th century. We watched missiles installed in Cuba, test ban treaties made and broken, and the creation of enough nuclear weapons to annihilate the world many times over. And then, the cold war froze solid, and the dangers of nuclear war seemed pushed to the back burner. Diplomacy lead to detente, and the tensions that characterized much of modern history seemed to relax.
But the weapons remained. Deadly, devastating, and just waiting to be deployed. Modern watchdog groups estimate that more than 10,000 nuclear bombs still exist today, many full functional and ready to be launched.
There are a number of groups working to keep track of these devices and to reduce or eliminate their presence from the global landscape. A few of the more active include:
- Greenpeace: While primarily an environmental organization, they are aware of the threat of what nuclear war can do to the population and to the environment. In addition to loss of life, both animal and vegetation, from the fires and explosions resulting from a nuclear attack, a large scale nuclear conflict could precipitate a condition known as Nuclear Winter, where particulates are spewed into the air that will diminish the Sun’s warming effect, essentially triggering an ice age.
- Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism: A group made up of members from 86 countries which is dedicated to ferreting out and creating effective responses to attempts by terrorist nations and organizations to add nuclear weapons to their arsenal. They also have created plans and contingencies to be used should a terrorist group successfully launch a nuclear attack on a target.
- The ATOM Project: This is an international initiative trying to bring a global nuclear nonproliferation treaty to fruition. This act, while not a total solution, would greatly reduce the chance of nuclear weapons being used by countries engaged in conflict, and would severely limit the availability of nuclear weapons and material to terrorist groups.
- Global Zero: An international group whose aim is to cause the complete elimination of specific weapons systems, especially nuclear weapons systems, which are the greatest threats to global stability and safety.
- The International Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons: As the name implies, this civilian organization is dedicated to the complete elimination of the nuclear option on a global scale, due to the tremendously inhumane nature of these weapons, regardless of the reason behind their use. Over 60 countries have partner groups supporting this goal.
- The UN Office for Disarmament Affairs: An omnibus group looking after the threats caused by all weapons of mass destruction, whether biological, chemical or nuclear. While its ultimate goal is global disarmament, it works with existing treaties, legislation and accords to limit proliferation and to reduce current stockpiles.