UN: Nuclear weapons ban treaty to enter into force


United Nations (PTI):

The United Nations, on Saturday, announced that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers.

As of Friday, the treaty had 49 signatories, and UN officials said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received.

This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone, said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons - the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty.

The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal, Fihn said.

The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day.

Meanwhile, the United States had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made a strategic error and urging them to rescind their ratification.

The US letter said the five original nuclear powers - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - and America's NATO allies stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions of the treaty.

It says the treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.

Fihn has stressed that the nonproliferation Treaty is about preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminating nuclear weapons, and this treaty implements that. There's no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It's the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has supported the nuclear weapons ban treaty, calling it a very welcome initiative.

The treaty was approved by the 193-member UN General Assembly on July 7, 2017, by a vote of 122 in favour, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining.

Among countries voting in favour was Iran. The five nuclear powers and four other countries that are known or believed to possess nuclear weapons India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel boycotted negotiations and the vote on the treaty, along with many of their allies.

Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima, who has been an ardent campaigner for the treaty, said, "When I learned that we reached our 50th ratification, I was not able to stand. I remained in my chair and put my head in my hands and I cried tears of joy," she said in a statement. (PTI)


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