Nuclear Education Trust

Public think more information, education and debate is needed on nuclear weapons as YouGov poll finds most are worried about their possible use

Public think more information, education and debate is needed on nuclear weapons as YouGov poll finds most are worried about their possible use

New YouGov polling shows more than half of UK adults (56%) are now worried that a nuclear weapon might be used in a conflict in the next two years.

The polling, commissioned by independent charity the Nuclear Education Trust, also found that around 7 in 10 (68%) believe the use of nuclear weapons in any circumstances is unacceptable and 8 in 10 (79%) of UK adults would support all countries with nuclear weapons committing to a policy of never using nuclear weapons first in a conflict. (At the moment the only countries with nuclear weapons to make that their declared policy are China and India; the remaining seven - UK, Russia, USA, France, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea - have not made such a commitment.)

Another question tested public opinion on the need for more public information, education in schools and colleges and more public debate on nuclear weapons. The findings were as below:

Do you think there needs to be more or less of the following, or do you think the current amount is about right?  More   Less   About Right   Don’t Know  
Public information on nuclear weapons
58 13 25 3
Education in school and/or college on nuclear weapons 49 4 25 23
Public debate about nuclear weapons 45 5 32 18


Steve Barwick, Chair of the Nuclear Education Trust, said:

“Anxiety about the possible use of a nuclear weapon is once again very high. In the current worrying circumstances the polling shows strong public support for more public information on nuclear weapons and more education in schools and colleges.

“The catastrophic impacts of even so called “tactical” nuclear weapons should be more widely known as should the fact that the Doomsday Clock is now at 100 seconds to midnight, worse than in the 1980s when worry about nuclear conflict was last very high.

“The poll also finds there should be more public debate about nuclear issues. One very interesting finding in this independent poll is the high level of support for all countries with nuclear weapons to commit to a policy of never being the first to use nuclear weapons. It is noteworthy this was supported by a majority of all age groups and irrespective of political affiliation.

“If all countries with nuclear weapons agreed to a policy of what is known as "No First Use" then anxiety regarding the use of nuclear weapons would be significantly reduced. This could also be a major step towards the possibility of nuclear disarmament. This is the kind of public policy that should be debated more in all countries where this is not declared policy, including the UK, the USA and, of course, Russia.”


Editor’s Notes


Please contact Steve Barwick, Chair of the Nuclear Education Trust on 07826 872375



“Tactical” or “battlefield” nuclear weapons are generally between 1 and 10 kilotons, not much smaller than the one used at Hiroshima (15 KT) that indiscriminately killed somewhere between 70 and 140 thousand people.
The evidence from the use and testing of nuclear weapons, as witnessed by test veterans and atomic bomb survivors, could be more widely known. Their testimonies highlight the devastating immediate and long-term effects of nuclear weapons and show that these effects know no borders.

United Nations agencies and the Red Cross have concluded, in the event of a nuclear detonation, no organisation in the world would be able to tackle the resulting humanitarian emergency or provide adequate help to survivors.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) includes a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities. It was voted into international law in 2017 by 122 countries at the United Nations with only one country voting against. Currently no country with nuclear weapons is a signatory to the Treaty.


To see all the polling figures click link 

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,765 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th - 5th July 2022. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).