activism film

Countdown to zero: a world without nuclear weapons

The optimum number of nuclear weapons is zero, that’s the argument behind Countdown to Zero, a new film about nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the world has around 23,000 of them, not all of them accounted for.

The film explores the ongoing threat of nuclear weapons, of black market arms sales, rogue states, and nuclear proliferation. The only safe course of action is to decommission them, one at a time, until there are none left.

It’s a view that is shared by Barack Obama, who has committed “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”, while acknowledging that it may not be something we see in his lifetime.

Is a world without nuclear weapons possible? Certainly, but it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be soon. Plenty of those that have them won’t be willing to give them up. Plenty of those without them are desperate to get them. The UK is one of the countries moving in the wrong direction, planning to renew the Trident missile system even in the middle of spending cuts. So far, South Africa is the only country to have developed nuclear weapons and then decided not to keep them.

If a nuclear-free world looks near impossible right now, then as far as I’m concerned that makes it all the more important to get involved. So catch Countdown to Zero at the cinema (UK) if you can. Organise a local screening. Sign the petition at Global Zero, and badger your politicians to keep disarmament on the agenda.


  1. Out of curiosity, do you have ANY alternative to nuclear deterence… outside of singing Kumbayah? Just to fill you in, the only effective alternative is a ‘boots on the ground’ military prescence. Seeing as how UK peace activists go apoplectic when ANY military intervention takes place, I would advise a more rationally thought out solution.

    Of note, peace-nik revulsion of nuclear technology, has really delayed the research and ultimate acceptance of clean efficient nuclear reactors to provide cheap, co2less power.

    It would be nice if progressive liberal thinking didn’t keep painting us into an unmanagable (and bankrupt) corner.

  2. No, there are clearly other options besides the nuclear deterrent and ‘boots on the ground’. It’s called diplomacy. But I don’t suppose you believe in that.

    1. Just how does one negotiate with an enemy that is implacable? One whose very core beliefs are that you are to convert or die?

      Psycho religious zealot: “I’m going to kill you.”

      Peacenik: “Please do not.

      Psycho religious zealot: “I’m going to kill you.”

      Peacenik: “I’ll give you some land.”

      Psycho religious zealot: “I’m going to kill you.”

      Peacenik: “How about some cash?”

      ‘Psycho religious zealot: “I’m going to kill you.”

      Peacenik: “Can’t we all just get along?”

      Psycho religious zealot; “No, I’m going to kill you.”

      This is why we cannot allow freedoms to be extinguished. It is only a free and moral society that can defeat evil. The US has had nuclear weapons for nearly 70 years now and has not deployed any against a target in nearly as long. Noone else has dared detonate a nuke in anger for fear of what a great and moral nation like the US would do in response.

      The highest crime rates in the US are found in cities with strict gun control laws, because the bad guys know they are wielding the power, and not the innocent. Where I live we all own guns and shoot on a regualr basis. I can leave my door unlocked and windows open because I have the ability to defend myself, and the thieves find somewhere else safer to do their deeds. It is soooo very peaceful here. 🙂

      A nuclear ban would simply give a green light to those who intend evil. They are not followers of rules to begin with, and will simply develop bombs and use them at will.

      Theories are fun, but using reality as a guide will save your life.

      1. I don’t even begin to understand your ‘great and moral’ country’s firearm fetish, so I’m not going to comment on that, but I do know that the UK’s murder rate is less than half yours, so we must be doing something right. It’s also true that the time we came nearest to a nuclear conflict, with the Cuban missile crisis, it was solved with diplomacy. Nuclear disarmament isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. But let me guess, you guys didn’t vote for Obama.

        1. “The Swiss Federal Police Office reports that, in 1997, there were 87 intentional homicides and 102 attempted homicides in the entire country. Some 91 of these 189 murders and attempts involved firearms (the statistics do not distinguish firearm use in consummated murders from attempts). With its population of seven million (which includes 1.2 million foreigners), Switzerland had a homicide rate of 1.2 per 100,000. There were 2,498 robberies (and attempted robberies), of which 546 involved firearms, giving a robbery rate of 36 per 100,000. Almost half of these criminal acts were committed by non-resident foreigners, which is why one hears reference in casual talk to “criminal tourists.”

          “Sometimes, the data sounds too good to be true. In 1993, not a single armed robbery was reported in Geneva”.

          “In a word, Switzerland, which is awash in guns, has substantially lower murder and robbery rates than England, where most guns are banned.”

          Dontcha just hate facts!

          You see Jeremy, it’s not the guns or the bombs, it’s bad people. America has higher murder and rape stats than the UK, but the UK has higher robbery, burglary and assault rates. You find bad people everywhere, and in the US it is mostly an urban issue. Out where I live, we have respect for one another and our firearms are used as sport, hunting and as a last resort defense.

          And even though our rate is higher than the UK, it is still below the world avearge and well below third world countries whose citizenry most often cannot defend themselves from the tyrants with the guns.

          And no, I’m not a marxist. Libertarians never are.

    2. With all due respect Jeremy. As a hypothetical… you’re walking thru’ town with your gal and you see 2 guys beating hell out of each other. At a certain point, 1 guy starts getting a real hammering. How long do you wait to intervene physically, as you encourage verbally the guy laying the boots to the head of his now postrate foe to stop? If, by chance, he replies politely “No” do you chat with the him till he comes around to your way of thinking?

      What you seem to not fundementally grasp is that it’s BECAUSE of military might, and the courage to back words with actions, that your precious diplomacy even stands a chance.

      With respect to a previously mentioned Pol Pot regime, it was the godless commie North Vietnamese who fixed that situation, not the liberal progresive western nations. Read what the Ecologist magazine has to say about that at the time (1975)… pg’s 186-9

      They then promote fear with the next article “Can We Feed Ourselves?”… such is prophesy.

      1. As a matter of fact I’ve intervened in several fights over the years, getting between people and talking them down, including one fight where a guy had a knife. They haven’t hit me, and I’ve never had to hit them – which is just as well, quite frankly.

        I follow a guy who said “blessed are the peacemakers”, and I believe he meant that quite literally.

        1. So you would not use force and allow a man to be stomped to death? Not what you have done, but, a hypothetical confronted with.

          1. Sometimes force is necessary, sure, but that’s a million miles from nuclear technology. Nobody wants to use a nuclear weapon. The only people who do are those who shouldn’t have them, and the best way to keep them out of the hands of psychopaths is for nobody to have them at all.

            The deterrent is nonsense in a age of terrorism. Who are you going to retaliate against with nuclear weapons if someone detonates a dirty bomb in New York? Mutually assured destruction of their camp in the desert? It’s a hugely expensive waste of time that makes the world infinitely less safe, not more.

          2. So let me get this straight, it’s ok to use force but you want to be able to have the right to choose the weaponry?

            Perhaps if you learned a little about nuclear arms and strategy you would have an understanding of who and who isn’t a potential target. When you say “Mutually assured destruction of their camp in the desert?” I’m trying my darndest to figure out how that camp can destroy my nation of Canada to fulfill your prophesy of ‘mutual’. Not saying you stand on rhetoric Jeremy but…..

            It’s very interesting how your analogy portrays an enemy attacking a civilian target in America with a nuclear weapon no less, juxtaposed against the retaliatory action of using equal force against a, now obviously, military target in the desert by the Americans.

          3. Ok, let me flip it round – what influence, if any, has the nuclear deterrent had on any conflict since the end of the cold war?

            I did whole courses on this stuff during my International Relations degree.

          4. What influence??? Well lets put it this way… the nuclear option has kept, is keeping and will in future ensure, the peace. As a matter of history, prior to the usage of the bomb in 1945 we had had 2 World Wars. After 1945 and for 66 years and counting we haven’t had another. I’ll check the paper in the morning, just to be sure.

            But Jeremy it goes deeper than that… prior to 1900’s world wars there were nothing BUT world wars. No poop! Yepper, when England and France got a bug up each others keester’s we sure heard about it here in the colonies. In fact the history of European snitfests have played themselves out world wide, wherever those possessions were.

            Perhaps, just perhaps, if every nation showed the same nuclear integrity as America, we wouldn’t even need this discussion. However, thats not the case.

            As an aside, how did the Hiroshima diplomacy work out? Thats right, Nagasaki. Then it was decided to listen to reason. The allies had long called for unconditional surrender, which by any account was fair. That was diplomatically rejected by Japan. Now I ask you Jeremy, seeing the commotion over every soldiers death nowadays, can you honestly say you blame America for choosing nuclear instead of a direct invasion of the Japanese home islands? Think casualties, think Dresden, Tokyo fire raids, Warsaw, Leningrad, Stalingrad. Think Okinawa but on a far vaster scale.

            To put it plainly Jeremy let me put it this way… the nation’s at war and tonight yer buyin’ the big one, it’s lights out. God gives you a choice, meet your maker in a nuclear holocaust of uranium reaction dropped by a single bomber, or a phosphorous armaggedon brought over by a thousand.

          5. The nature of conflict is changing. Nation rarely lines up against nation. The wars your country (and mine) are fighting are not against nations. They may be taking place in Iraq or Afghanistan, but they’re not against those nations. It was against Saddam -a dictator, or against the Taliban -a political faction. A war on ‘terror’. What use are nukes under these circumstances?

            If nuclear weapons in the hands of a responsible USA was the main cause of world peace, the decline in world conflicts would have started in the 40s. But it didn’t – it really kicks in in 1989/90. Why? Because the Cold War ends, and (I know you’re absolutely going to hate this and deny it utterly) for the first time the UN isn’t deadlocked by the US/USSR veto. Global cooperation is possible in ways it never was before. Add the emergence of the internet in quick succession, and you have an inter-connected, inter-dependent world where inter-state conflict has little relevance.
            world conflict

          6. Jeremy, you’ve told me before that you choose your words very carefully, so, when you say “I (you) did whole courses on this stuff during my International Relations degree.” did that imply you learned nothing? Thats what it seems to me. Clearly you lack fundamental understanding on the subject.

            Out of curiosity, what did you do with your IR degree? Please don’t say you covered a hole in the wall with it.

          7. As an IR professional, you would clearly know that the President was Ronald Reagan from 1980-88, followed by George Bush Sr., former head of the CIA and Ron’s VP of 8 years, from 1988-92.

            Big Ron initiated and funded the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)… remember that? Star Wars? “Thousand points of light” ring a bell? Ron spent the Russki’s into the Stone Age when they tried to keep up. His description of the “Evil Empire” certainly didn’t win any diplomatic friends but he sure as heck caused the collapse of the Soviet Union.

            Once Ronnie broke the commies economic back they didn’t have a pot to pee in nevermind fund hanky-panky worldwide. That and Ron decided to confront the Wacky Lacky Leftists, wherever they popped up… Grenada.

            This is what might be of interest “Reagan escalated the Cold War, accelerating a reversal from the policy of détente which began in 1979 following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.[150] Reagan ordered a massive buildup of the United States Armed Forces[110] and implemented new policies towards the Soviet Union: reviving the B-1 bomber program that had been canceled by the Carter administration, and producing the MX “Peacekeeper” missile.[151] In response to Soviet deployment of the SS-20, Reagan oversaw NATO’s deployment of the Pershing II missile in West Germany.[152]… Together with the United Kingdom’s prime minister Margaret Thatcher, Reagan denounced the Soviet Union in ideological terms.[154] In a famous address on June 8, 1982 to the British Parliament in the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, Reagan said, “the forward march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history.”[155][156] On March 3, 1983, he predicted that communism would collapse, stating, “Communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.”[157] In a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals on March 8, 1983, Reagan called the Soviet Union “an evil empire”.[158]”

            Surely you had at least wondered in passing why the Cold War ended didn’t you?

            As for your degree… it was a rhetorical comment.

          8. Ron Reagan 1980-88.
            Perestroika “After Mikhail Gorbachev took the office of General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, he began a series of political reforms”

            Check out the dates Jeremy, then put the cart after the horse.

          9. Your point being what, exactly? That Ronald had five years in office before the Perestroika policies began? I don’t see how that either proves or disproves your point. Perestroika didn’t end the Cold War either, by the way. As always, there are several factors in play. I just bring it up because your explanation is pure US triumphalism.

            But to be honest, none of this is relevant to the post, or to the question that you aren’t answering. Nuclear weapons are a cold war technology, but what’s the purpose of them in an age of terrorism?

            If you’re not interested in answering that question, then I’m done with this thread, as it’s clearly not going anywhere.

          10. I’m glad you’ve given up then as it’s a subject you clearly don’t understand outside of ideology.

          11. Jeremy, I’m surprised at your faulty logic. By chance can you explain how the Age of Terrorism negates the Age of Superpowers ie. nuclear armed? The possession of nukes ensured through Mutual Assured Destruction that they weren’t used. It’s been 66 years and counting that that ideology has worked. All the while conventional war still raged and as you pointed out, escalated. Not nukes. You seem to think that you can have one threat OR the other… terror/cold war,… but not both. Yet you have shown yourself that both can coexist. You assume the Cold War is over. It is, as we know it. That doesn’t mean it can’t restart… as WW1 then WW2 have historically shown.

            Just to let you know, my hometown of 50,000 people was #2 on the Russian nuke hit list. Honest injun… remember, I’m in Canada. Figure it out. Also, we had nuclear missles in my homtown too! I’m in Ontario, the missles had a range of 250 miles… get an atlas and see how far it would fly!

          12. It’s been 20 years since there was a threat of conflict between superpowers. Who would this new cold war be between? China and the US are entirely interdependent – China owns a trillion in US treasury bills, so the US can’t piss them off or they could destroy the American economy overnight. Equally, China depends entirely on the US markets for its export-driven economy. This is mutually ensured destruction of an economic variety, basically. India and Pakistan are already at a nuclear stalemate. Neither can afford to escalate a conflict so the only way back is, eventually, to back down. Without the captive markets of the USSR, Russia needs export markets for its oil and gas, so it can’t afford to upset Europe. So how is this going to happen exactly?

            Since the end of the Cold War, conflicts have fragmented and are now rarely state vs state. The only superpower waging war is the US, and all their current wars part of a ‘war on terror’ in which nuclear technology is irrelevant. As I’ve already stated, the existence of nuclear weapons in an age of terrorism makes the world less safe, not more, because there is the risk of them falling into the wrong hands.

            Now, since I’ve already said all this and you’re making me repeat myself, I’m going to go ahead and consider this my last post on this thread. No doubt you’ll want the last word, and as a courtesy you can have it.

  3. As for more ‘diplomacy in action’. Guess who’s the new fave “tyrant-o-the-month’? Yepper Syrian President Bashir Assad! Not content with just supporting Egypt’s Moslem Brotherhood… Hillary Clinton now classifies Basher as “(Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s) a reformer”. “Despite appeals from the Obama administration, Bashir Assad has aligned himself with Iran and Hamas… A regular visitor to Damascus is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has met with Assad at least six times, most recently last November.”

    At least I can trust a nuke… poiticians not so much.

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