Go to Home Page

Key Issues Ethics Issues Military Leaders on Nuclear Weapons Abolition

Military Leaders on Nuclear Weapons Abolition


"We have reached the point where the senior military generals responsible for nuclear forces are advocating, more vocally, more vehemently, than our politicians, to get down to lower and lower weapons."

--General Eugene Habiger (Ret), former head of U.S. nuclear forces


"The peculiar nature of nuclear weapons is such that only a very few can do all the destruction that anybody needs to do to destroy us. So that the possession on our part of thousands of

Printer Friendly

More on the Web
Quotes of Warnings regarding Nuclear War.

nuclear weapons doesn't give us any security."

-- Admiral Noel Gayler (Ret), October 18, 1998, from Can We Learn to Live Without Nuclear Weapons?, Video, Center for Defense Information

"By virtue of our experience and the positions we have held, we have a fair understanding of the destructive parameters of conventional and nuclear weapons. We are of the considered view that nuclear weapons should be banished from the South Asian region, and indeed from the entire globe."

-- Joint Statement of 63 Retired India & Pakistan Military Personnel October, 1998

 "... as a nation we have no greater responsibility than to bring the nuclear era to a close. Our present policies, plans and postures governing nuclear weapons make us prisoner still to an age of intolerable danger. We cannot at once keep sacred the miracle of existence and hold sacrosanct the capacity to destroy it. We cannot hold hostage to sovereign gridlock the keys to final deliverance from the nuclear nightmare. We cannot withhold the resources essential to break its grip, to reduce its dangers. We cannot sit in silent acquiescence to the faded homilies of the nuclear priesthood. It is time to reassert the primacy of individual conscience, the voice of reason and the rightful interests of humanity."

-- General Lee Butler, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former Commander-in-Chief, United States Strategic Air Command (1992-94), National Press Club Speech, February 2, 1998


"There are risks attached to total nuclear disarmament, but I have come to the view that those risks are lesser risks than maintaining the vast stocks of nuclear weapons..."

-- Admiral Sir James Eberle, British Royal Navy (Ret.), from "Military Leaders for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons" Center for Defense Information, Program 1049, broadcast August 17, 1997

"...the end of the Cold War has made it possible to consider seriously proposals to ban nuclear weapons altogether."

-- Major General William F. Burns, U.S. Army (Ret.), Chair, National Academy of Sciences' The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy, June 17, 1997

"We must work together to create a world in which it is possible for all nations to agree not to develop, build, acquire, maintain, or use nuclear weapons. We will all be far safer in a world without nuclear weapons."

-- Vice Admiral John J. Shanahan, USN (Ret.), From a Prepared Remarks to Olaf Palme International Center, March 6, 1997


"We, military professionals, who have devoted our lives to the national security of our countries and our peoples, are convinced that the continuing existence of nuclear weapons in the armories of nuclear powers, and the ever present threat of acquisition of these weapons by others, constitute a peril to global peace and security and to the safety and survival of the people we are dedicated to protect."

-- Joint Statement on Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by Over 60 Generals, December 5, 1996  

"As to those who believe nuclear weapons desirable or inevitable, I would say these devices exact a terrible price even if never used. Accepting nuclear weapons as the ultimate arbiter of conflict condemns the world to live under a dark cloud of perpetual anxiety. Worse, it codifies mankind's most murderous instincts as an acceptable resort when other options for resolving conflict fail.

"We are not condemned to repeat the lessons of forty years at the nuclear brink. We can do better than condone a world in which nuclear weapons are accepted as commonplace. The price already paid is too dear, the risks run too great. The task is daunting but we cannot shrink from it. The opportunity may not come again."

-- General Lee Butler (Ret), Speech Advocating The Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, December 4, 1996.


"It will take 10 to 12 years at a minimum, given necessary multilateral agreement and action, to reduce world nuclear arsenals to a low level that it now seems to me possible to contemplate and plan on -- 100 to 200 weapons, no more, in the hands of each nuclear weapons nation -- while we study whether it might be possible to rid the world of them completely -- which should be our hope."

-- General Andrew J. Goodpaster, U.S. Army (Ret.), Former Commander of NATO Forces (SACEUR), In Congressional Testimony on the Extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. March 14, 1995


"The nuclear weapon is obsolete. I want to get rid of them all...I want to go to zero, and I'll tell you why: If we and the Russians can go to zero nuclear weapons, then think what that does for us in our efforts to counter the new war...Think how intolerant we will be of nations that are developing nuclear weapons if we have none. Think of the high moral ground we secure by having none...It's kind of hard for us to say to North Korea, `You are terrible people, you're developing a nuclear weapons,' when we have oh, 8,000."

-- General Charles Horner, U.S. Army (Ret.) Former Commander, U.S. Space Command, July 15, 1994

"In the long run, the goal is to do away with nuclear weapons altogether because the United States will be far safer, far more secure if no one has nuclear weapons."

-- Admiral Eugene Carroll, U.S. Navy (Ret.), "Does the United States Need Nuclear Weapons?", America's Defense Monitor program #721, February 6, 1994

"Nuclear weapons are by agreement of most military planners the most destructive weapons that we have in our arsenal. They kill more people and destroy more things at less cost than any other weapon. But ironically, we're learning that nuclear weapons may not even be usable in the years ahead. And it is somewhat surprising to find our military people gradually moving away from nuclear weapons and perhaps to a time when we can eliminate all of our nuclear weapons from our arsenal and the arsenals of the world."

-- Rear Admiral Gene LaRocque (USN, Ret.), "Does the United States Need Nuclear Weapons?", America's Defense Monitor program #72, February 6, 1994


"Today I can declare my hope and declare it from the bottom of my heart that we will eventually see the time when that number of nuclear weapons is down to zero and the world is a much better place."

-- General Colin Powell, US Army (Ret.), Then­Chairman of U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, 10 June 1993


"As a military man who has given half a century of active service I saw in all sincerity that the nuclear arms race has no military purpose. Wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. Their existence only adds to our perils because of the illusions which they have generated.

"There are powerful voices around the world who still give credence to the old Roman concept -- if you desire peace, prepare for war. This is absolute nuclear nonsense and I repeat -- it is a disastrous misconception to believe that by increasing the total uncertainty one increases one's own certainty."

-- Lord Mountbatten, August 1979


"With the monstrous weapons man already has, humanity is in danger of being trapped in this world by its moral adolescents. Our knowledge of science has clearly outstripped our capacity to control it. We have many men of science, but too few men of God. We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon On The Mount. Man is stumbling blindly through a spiritual darkness while toying with the precarious secrets of life and death.

The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. This is our twentieth century's claim to distinction and to progress."

-- General Omar Bradley, November 10, 1948