Ethics and morals are important perspective to take into consideration when it comes to nuclear weapons. It’s about other ways to look at nuclear weapons, get different angles and to broaden horizons.

Nuclear ethics

Ethics are knowledge of what is right/wrong. Ethics transcend to culture, religion, and time. Morals are culturally and religiously based distinctions of right/wrong. Nuclear ethics focus on the fact that nuclear warfare may lead to the extinction of all human beings.



In 1955, the author, philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell wrote an appeal which was signed by Albert Einstein and several other Nobel Prize laureates, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. It supported the abolition of war and nuclear weapons:

“Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” — “We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”



Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat, a physicist, was among those who signed the Manifesto. When he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, he said in his Nobel lecture: “The time has come to formulate guidelines for the ethical conduct of scientist, perhaps in the form of a voluntary Hippocratic Oath”. He cited the Manifesto: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest”.

A disaster for mankind

Equality for those who are a part of a legal system is central for the integrity and legitimacy of the system. There cannot be a law for the strong and another law for the rest. No national, legal system should accept that; nor can an international system based on the principle of equity, according to Justice Christopher Weeramantry, a former Vice President of the International Court of Justice. He spoke about the lack of ethics in the laws that regulate nuclear weapons and disarmaments.

Many have noted the absurd that a few large, strong nations are allowed to have nuclear weapons in their arsenals because these nations think that they need nuclear weapons for their safety. In the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they have undertaken to disarm the nuclear weapons but they omit it. At the same time, they prohibit other countries to acquire nuclear weapons. Many others repeat the absurd fact that some are allowed to have nuclear weapons – that there are individuals who decide about the future of our planet.


Einstein and Oppenheimer

The nuclear weapons states claim often that the most important function of the nuclear weapons is deterrence, i.e. to use their ability to erase other states for preventing them to attack. To frighten humans and threat the existence of the world cannot be considered as ethical.

Greenpeace state that: “Every year at the United Nations when all governments vote, we see the vast majority of the 191 countries voting for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Citizens in nuclear weapons states should question why their leaders feel so entitled to gamble with their lives”.

Former vice-president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Judge Christopher Weeramantry stated: “The self-appointed nuclear policemen of the world need to realise how their actions totally destroy their credibility there cannot be one law for some and another law for others.”


Last update: March 9, 2015