Goals of Pugwash in its Tenth Quinquennium: 2002-2007
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At the beginning of each quinquennium, the Pugwash Council issues a statement relating the enduring mission and objectives of Pugwash to its evolving agenda in the context of recent international developments. The following contains the goals of Pugwash for its Tenth Quinquennium, from 2002 to 2007, adopted at a plenary session of the 52nd Pugwash Conference at the University of California, San Diego, in August 2002.

The overriding peril which preoccupied the founders of Pugwash in 1955-1957, and which has claimed much of the attention of Pugwash participants in the intervening 45 years, is the danger posed to humanity by the vast destructive power of nuclear weapons, the accumulation of these weapons in huge numbers in the arsenals of the United States and Russia, and their spread into the possession of the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. To these ongoing challenges must now be added the increased threats posed by the possible acquisition and use of weapons of mass destruction by other states and by non-state groups.

Pugwash is strongly committed to the goal of abolishing all nuclear weapons. It is imperative that Pugwash constantly remind the international community of the immorality, illegality, and peril inherent in nuclear weapons, and to propose concrete steps towards their elimination.

Despite promising steps in the early 1990s to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons, more recent developments give rise to serious concern about a reversal in this process of controlling, reducing and abolishing nuclear weapons. The nuclear peril, while somewhat abated, nonetheless persists:
  • in the tens of thousands of weapons still deployed (many in rapid response alert),


  • in doctrines calling for the first use of nuclear weapons, and also for the possible use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries,


  • in the presence of nuclear weapons in regions having a significant risk of conflict


  • in the risk of the further spread of nuclear weapons,


  • in the risk of theft of nuclear weapons or nuclear-weapons material from widely dispersed and sometimes inadequately guarded stockpiles,


  • in the risk of the use of nuclear weapons by international terrorist groups,


  • in the development of new types of nuclear weapons, that may call for the resumption of nuclear tests,


  • in the challenge to arms control and strategic stability posed by the development of missile defenses and the deployment of new types of weapons.


The whole system of nuclear arms control is, moreover, under strain, with treaties that are renounced by one party (the ABM Treaty), treaties that are not ratified (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), proposed treaties where no apparent progress is made (Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty), and commitments for nuclear arms control and disarmament, such as the 13 steps of the 2000 NPT Review Conference, that are assumed but largely disregarded in practice. Most importantly, the implementation of Article VI of the NPT that mandates nuclear disarmament is far from being the basis of the policy of the nuclear powers.

Thus the Pugwash goal of reducing and eliminating the nuclear peril will be more important than ever in the Tenth Quinquennium. Specific points on the Pugwash agenda will include prescriptions for much deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals, for the effective dismantlement of retired warheads, for much greater transparency and control of all the deployed forces and warheads in storage, for stronger non-proliferation measures and verification, especially regarding the safety of nuclear materials, for fast disposal of fissile material, for the entry into force of the nuclear test ban, for a stop to the production of new weapons and new weapon-grade material, and for the abandonment of nuclear policies that allow an early use or a first use of nuclear weapons. Pugwash will also consider as an essential element of the non-proliferation agenda the prevention of the proliferation of expertise, where nuclear weapons experts may be induced to work for countries or subnational groups wishing to acquire nuclear weapons

The need to reduce and eliminate the dangers posed by chemical and biological weapons has likewise long been on the Pugwash agenda. The entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1997 completed the process of the comprehensive prohibition of chemical and biological weapons that began with the Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention (BTWC) of 1972. But much remains to be done to make these prohibitions fully effective, especially in light of failed efforts to implement a comprehensive monitoring and verification protocol for the BTWC. Pugwash will continue to contribute to efforts at strengthening the implementation and verification of both the CWC and BTWC.

In the case of chemical and biological weapons, there is also the risk of proliferation to state and non-state actors. This risk is enhanced by the fact that some CB agents can be produced with relatively limited means and that some of the CBW material deriving from past activities of many countries is still stockpiled in precarious conditions and its destruction delayed. Pugwash is committed to the prevention of the spread of any weapons of mass destruction and to the elimination of all such weapons; this applies to nuclear weapons as well as to chemical and biological weapons.

Nuclear, chemical and biological weapons do not, however, exhaust the categories of weaponry that will continue to be of concern to Pugwash in its Tenth Quinquennium. Conventional weapons, ranging from small arms to antipersonnel mines to new high-technology weapons, are all too often the instruments of indiscriminate destruction, especially for civilians. Accordingly, the pursuit of further international monitoring and restriction of conventional arms development, production, and transfer will remain an important priority for Pugwash.

One of the great strengths of Pugwash during the Cold War was the ability to bring together scientists, experts, and policy makers from countries situated at opposite sides of world politics. Through continuous, patient work Pugwash was able to create a climate of mutual understanding and trust, which eased East-West tensions and avoided war. Pugwash needs now to use its international membership to carry on the same policy of bringing together scientists, experts and policy makers belonging to countries or group of countries divided by different perceptions of security, antithetical interests, different ideologies or religious hostility of any kind. This task is particularly significant for Pugwash if these potential conflicts or tensions involve countries that possess or may possess weapons of mass destruction as is the case in South Asia, the Middle East and Northeast Asia.

At a more general level, Pugwash has recognized from the start the indispensability of the goal of minimizing and finally eliminating the incidence of war itself. As Pugwash has historically done in a wide variety of contexts, this means seeking creative ways for resolving disputes before they break out in armed conflict, and for ending quickly and with minimum destruction those armed conflicts that do occur.

It also means working to transform and reverse the conditions of economic deprivation, environmental deterioration, and resource scarcity and unequal access that are deplorable in themselves and give rise to despair, resentment, hostility, and violence around the world. Pugwash will continue to address this broad web of inter-related dangers, and to work for the sustainable use of energy and natural resources and the constraint of anthropogenic disruption of climate.

Ways have to be found to address the causes and motivations for terrorism, other than by military action. To that end, Pugwash in its Tenth Quinquennium will strengthen its efforts at finding and promoting solutions that reduce the dangerous gaps within and between countries. Pugwash will seek means of maximizing the benefits of new developments in science and technology, and conversely, of foreseeing the possible negative consequences of developments and applications of new technologies that could endanger humankind and the environment and exacerbate tension and strife in the world community.

From weapons of mass destruction to new developments in biotechnology and other sciences, Pugwash will continue to stress the ethical and moral responsibility of scientists in furthering the beneficial applications of their work and preventing their misuse. The global community at the start of the 21st century stands on the threshold of an era that holds great promise for advancing the human condition. Following the dictum of Rabelais that "science is but the conscience of the soul," it will remain the enduring task of Pugwash to ensure that science and technology are employed for the benefit of humankind, and not its destruction.

[14 August 2002]