The only protection from nuclear weapons is to eliminate them all. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons bans all nuclear weapons and seeks their total elimination. Ultimately, we want the US President to sign this Treaty, we want the Senate to ratify it, and we want to see it fully implemented and enforced. You can sign the WILPF petition calling for this here. You can also urge your member of Congress to sign the ICAN Parliamentary Pledge here.
The rid the world of all nuclear weapons, of course, requires that the other 8 existing nuclear weapon states also sign, ratify and implement the Treaty (in addition to all the remaining countries of the world). You can urge these other countries to sign the Treaty here.
Like the US, no one country wants to give up all their existing nuclear weapons without knowing that the others will also give up theirs. This is what has held back the process of getting rid of these weapons for the last 72 years! We have to move beyond that kind of thinking. Someone has to take the first step, and since these weapons do not protect us and can never be used without catastrophic consequences for the whole planet, there is no logical reason why the US cannot, or should not, take the lead on this.
The Treaty Compliance Campaign is not calling on the United States to immediately sign and ratify the Treaty, however. We do not expect the US to ‘unilaterally’ eliminate its nuclear arsenal, regardless of what the other 8 nuclear weapons states do. Instead, we are calling for the United States to go through a 3-Step Process in order to reach the point, at step 3, where it is able to sign the Treaty, alongside the other nuclear weapon states.
Step #1: Commit to the Treaty, by issuing a Presidential Proclamation of Intent to sign, ratify and implement the Treaty. This would be a powerful signal to other nuclear weapon states that the United States is serious about eliminating all nuclear weapons, globally. Someone has to make the first move. We call on the President of the United States to make that move. This is a statement of political will. That is what is so importantly needed to remove the logjam that has stymied the process of nuclear disarmament for so many years. It should be accompanied by an invitation to all the other nuclear weapon states to do likewise and ‘proclaim their intention’ to sign the Treaty. And it would also be accompanied by the setting up of a Presidential Commission for US Accession to the Nuclear Ban Treaty. Such a Commission would be comprised of distinguished and competent people from different walks of life, who would be given the task of overseeing the rest of the process leading to the US signing and ratifying the Treaty.
Step #2: Consider the implications and what will be required to be in compliance with the Treaty. In the case of the US government, this means holding public hearings, gathering evidence and taking testimony in order to determine the full extent of the US nuclear weapons business and what would be required to eliminate it. A Declaration of Non-Compliance will be needed when it comes to complying with Article 2 of the Treaty. The Commission would then have to come up with a Time-Bound Treaty Compliance Plan for the verifiable and irreversible elimination of the US nuclear weapons program. This lays out exactly how and when US nuclear weapons would be eliminated, and again this plan will be needed when it comes to complying with Article 4 of the Treaty. This whole process also allows time to see what other nuclear nations are doing and to coordinate with them the final stage of actually signing, ratifying and implementing the Treaty.
Step #3: Confirm the final decision to join the Treaty. This means enacting National Legislation that legally commits the United States to implementing the Treaty Compliance Plan within a specified period of time. This opens the door to being able to sign the Treaty, since the US must present a legally-binding, time-bound Plan to all the other signatories. On finally signing the Treaty, the US is then committed to immediately removing all its nuclear weapons from operational deployment and completing, within 18 months of signing, the implementation of the legally-binding, time-bound plan for the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons.