British Pugwash Newsletter: April 2023

Items include:

  1. AGM Lecture with Professor Sir Hew Strachan, 9th May
  2. Videos of recent webinars
  3. UK public opinion survey on nuclear weapons
  4. EuroPugwash meeting
  5. Recent articles and reports of interest
  6. Student and Young Pugwash update


  1. AGM Lecture (Online): Professor Sir Hew Strachan, 9th May

What does the invasion of Ukraine tell us about war, deterrence and escalation?

5.30pm, Tuesday 9th May, online

Mindful that the 1955 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, which inspired the launch of Pugwash Conferences, highlights the threat to humankind’s survival posed by war in a nuclear age, we have invited one of our Honorary Patrons, Professor Sir Hew Strachan, formerly Chichele Professor of the History of War, to offer us his thoughts on the war in Ukraine.

Register here:

  1. Videos of recent webinars

i) 14th December 2022

Nuclear weapons, the Ukraine conflict and beyond

This webinar discussed nuclear threats and doctrine concerning the Ukraine conflict, nuclear weapons modernisation, the prospects for nuclear arms control, and ideas on nuclear risk reduction. The panel included: Shannon Bugos, Senior Policy Analyst at the Arms Control Association, Dr Tim Street, Secretary of British Pugwash, and David Cullen, Director of Nuclear Information Service.

A video of the event is available here:

ii) 11th February 2023

90 Seconds to Midnight: Russell, Pugwash and nuclear weapons

With the Doomsday Clock inching closer to midnight, this event discussed Bertrand Russell’s life and work, the history of Pugwash, and nuclear weapons. Jointly sponsored by the Bertrand Russell Society and British Pugwash, the speakers included Andrew Bone (BRS), Tony Simpson (BRS), and David Ellwood (BP).

A video of the event is available here:

iii) 1st March 2023

Power from Fusion: why the sudden excitement?

The speaker for this webinar was Professor Sir Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK’s Atomic Energy Authority, and head of one the world’s leading fusion research teams based at Culham near Oxford. He described ongoing research into this important topic and plans to turn power from fusion into a reality.

A video of the event is available here:

  1. UK public opinion survey on nuclear weapons

In January 2023 British Pugwash and polling company Savanta conducted a survey of UK public opinion concerning nuclear weapons issues. The poll aimed to understand the views of the British public in this area and assess potential support for policies that advance nuclear arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

The poll asked UK adults seven questions across a range of topical themes relating to nuclear weapons. These topics include: the Russia-Ukraine war, the UK’s ongoing replacement of its nuclear weapon system, the possibility that US nuclear weapons will again be stationed in the UK, the significant uplift to the UK’s nuclear warhead stockpile cap, and the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

The polling results show that there are several notable differences between the British public’s views and the policies of the UK Government concerning nuclear weapons. Whilst 40% of UK adults support the UK possessing nuclear weapons, there is significant public support for policies which would control, limit, and even eliminate the UK’s nuclear weapons—including amongst supporters of nuclear possession.

These findings suggest a strong case for adjusting UK policies better to represent public views on nuclear weapon issues. In particular, UK public support for: a no first use policy; reductions in the cost of replacing the UK’s nuclear weapon capability; and engaging with the TPNW—in addition to opposition to the US again basing nuclear weapons in the UK—should be better reflected in nuclear arms control and disarmament policies.

An article summarising our findings is available on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website:

  1. EuroPugwash meeting

Members of Pugwash from across Europe met in person and online in Bristol on 30-31 January to discuss a range of topics including: nuclear threats and challenges; the destabilising effect of missile defence; how to bring the Ukraine war to an end; and options for reconciling the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

  1. Recent articles and reports of interest
  1. Student and Young Pugwash update 

i) The Pugwash Nobel Peace Prize 27 Years On: Reflections and Outlook

On December 10th 1995, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs and Sir Joseph Rotblat, the youngest original signatory of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo “for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.”

This was the first Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to an individual and an organisation. Its award reflected optimism in post-Cold War Europe about the future of nuclear arms control and the imperative of ending nuclear weapons testing. Today, that optimism is in short supply.

To commemorate their recognition 27 years ago, on 9th December 2022, three speakers who knew Rotblat personally shared memories of his life: from young scientist, to influential Pugwashite, to champion of student and young Pugwash voices. The presentations included rare videos and first-hand accounts from the Nobel ceremony. They underlined the need for dialogue across divides in times of international tension, and the importance of engaging a new generation of scientists and arms control advocates.

A video of the event is available here:

ii) SYP coordinator Shane Ward will be moving on shortly. We wish him well for the future and thank him for his contributions.

To receive the Student Young Pugwash newsletter please register here.