U.N. approves global treaty banning nuclear weapons

In a majority vote at the United Nations (U.N.) on Friday, the world’s countries adopted a global treaty aimed at barring the development, testing, manufacturing, and possession of nuclear weaponry.

It was the first time in history that a majority –122 countries to be exact– endorsed the treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Only the Netherlands voted against the treaty.

Countries that possess nuclear weapons, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Russia, as well as countries that either come under their protection or host weapons on their soil boycotted the treaty negotiations, arguing that unpredictable countries like North Korea would likely not cooperate, according to The Guardian.

United States Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said in March when the treaty’s negotiations began: “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons, but we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”

Meanwhile, arms control groups are celebrating the milestone, claiming that by “delegitimizing nuclear weapons and raising awareness of the terrifying dangers that come from continued reliance on them, the nuclear ban makes a valuable contribution to nonproliferation and disarmament efforts,” said Meredith Horowski, the global campaign director for the anti-nuclear weapons group Global Zero.

Horowski concluded her statement: “There are many more steps to come in order to secure a world without nuclear weapons, but today the world took a step in the right direction.”

Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, initially applauded the treaty but offered some words of criticism about the “final text of the Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty” for not being “stronger.”

Kimball specifically pointed out that “Article 3, which outlines the requirements for safeguards against nuclear weapons programs, could have been strengthened and improved.”

The 10-page treaty banning nuclear weapons will be open for signatures from UN members on September 20 during its annual general assembly.

Under the new treaty, signatory states must agree not to develop, test, manufacture or possess nuclear weapons, or threaten to use them, or allow any nuclear arms to be stationed on their territory.

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