Challenging Nuclear Secrecy

Challenging Nuclear Secrecy: A discussion of hierarchies, ethics and barriers to access in nuclear archives

This report from the Nuclear Truth Project is a deep discussion on how affected communities, researchers, civil society and governments interact with nuclear archives.

Pacific scholar, Marco de Jong, was lead author on the report. Alongside the NTP Coordinators and Pacific journalist Nic Maclellan and US reference librarian, Carla Cantagallo, the team worked to produce the Challenging Nuclear Secrecy report, which was launched globally on 7 August 2023. The project engaged with around 18 researchers, activists and affected community Peoples who have experience with nuclear archives.

Our report highlights the limitations of nuclear secrecy, and explores issues related to privileged and tiered access. It also invites inquiry into what it will take for affected communities to be at the centre of work to implement Article 6 and 7 of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the next Meetings of State Parties and beyond.

The conclusion of our report identifies three key Policy and Action Calls for further discussion:

1. Understanding that nuclear secrecy is sustained unjustly and to the detriment of affected communities, we call on States to commit to openness and transparency with their nuclear archives.

2. Understanding that privileged and hierarchical access for some has entrenched barriers for affected communities, we call on governments, institutions and civil society to reform such practices.

3. Understanding that affected communities maintain community memory in place, we call for greater resourcing for alternatives for archival justice.

Please contact the Nuclear Truth Project to share your thoughts on the report or to request a high resolution version of the report.

In November 2023, the Nuclear Truth Project submitted a Working Paper to the United Nations Second Meeting of States Parties (2MSP) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) which highlighted the calls and findings of this report. You can find the Working Paper here.


DNA Repair. 2017. 16 x 20 in. Acrylic on Watercolor Paper. Mallery Quetawki (Zuni Pueblo). artist site | instagram

​DNA has the ability to repair itself through complex mechanisms and pathways when damage occurs. Its intricacy of repair can be compared to the creation of beaded items in Native Culture. Designs are thought out ahead and require skill and patience to be able to bead such intricate pieces. When a beaded necklace comes undone, the stones/beads are restrung by using what is already there. The design used is from the Crow Nation. The use of the flower design symbolizes the idea of regrowth.

We would like to acknowledge the use of Ms. Quetawki’s images from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, the University of New Mexico NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of New Mexico College of Pharmacy.

We are grateful to Zuni Pueblo artist Mallery Quetawki for designing the beautiful Nuclear Truth Project logo. Combining many symbols familiar within the nuclear free movement, this stunning design evokes both the strength and the long story of the movement we are a living part of. As the artist explains;

“The olive branch is the offering for peace, the arrows are signifying the work towards a common cause and the peace symbol represents the outcome. The handprint represents unity and the sunflower represents remediation. The DNA strand represents the positive outcome for all living things.”

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.