Jean Chrétien, Joe Clark, Ed Broadbent and Lloyd Axworthy: Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons

Roundup: Media's Take

At the end of the Second World War, Canada was one of the few countries that possessed the technology and raw materials needed to produce nuclear weapons. In the wake of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Canadian leaders of the day, shocked at the terrifying power of the bomb, renounced that option and turned their attention to achieving an international agreement to control the spread of nuclear weapons and to free humanity from the risk of annihilation.

Lester Pearson was under no illusions that the genie could be put back into the bottle. In his memoirs, he recorded his feelings of despair as he contemplated the postwar nuclear security environment: “Peace may have little to do with victory.”

Regrettably, Canada's future Nobel Peace Prize winner was right, and the world endured 45 years of East-West confrontation with each side threatening to unleash its nuclear weapons on the other in the case of war. People of goodwill thus rejoiced when the Cold War ended. And in the mood of euphoria that prevailed, many expected that a way would surely be found to deal once and for all with the threat nuclear weapons posed to the security of the world.

Unfortunately, that hope proved to be illusory....

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