Published: Sat, July 08, 2017
Global | By Maureen Mccoy

122 countries adopt global treaty banning nuclear weapons

122 countries adopt global treaty banning nuclear weapons

More than 120 countries are expected to adopt the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons Friday despite a boycott by all nuclear-armed nations, including the United States, which has pointed to North Korea's escalating nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

The treaty was adopted by a vote of 122 in favor with one country - NATO member The Netherlands - voting against, while Singapore abstained.

One hundred twenty-two nations agreed to the final draft text after weeks of negotiations that were not attended by any of the nine nuclear-armed states, which include the U.S., Russia, and North Korea.

The Netherlands deputy United Nations ambassador Lise Gregoire-Van-Haaren told delegates her country couldn't vote for a treaty that went against its NATO obligations, had inadequate verification provisions or that undermined the NPT - and "this draft does not meet our criteria".

It is a text unsuited to the worldwide security context, characterized by growing tensions and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as shown, inter alia, by the North Korea nuclear threat.

Most of the nations have quietly ignored the conferences, while the United States has been particularly outspoken in its opposition to the plan, saying that it was "not realistic" and that the U.S. doesn't trust the other nuclear powers to disarm if a deal was reached. The reduction of Russian and American nuclear arsenals, which account for 90% of the world's nuclear weapons stockpile, is another important goal.

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"The nuclear weapons states' boycott of the ban treaty negotiations", Carter said last month, "illustrates a denial of medical science", referring to "empirically known consequences of the use, testing, and development of these weapons on human lives".

"It's been seven decades since the world knew the power of destruction of nuclear weapons and since day one there was a call to prohibit nuclear weapons", Elayne Whyte Gómez, president of the United Nations conference, told The Guardian. Rob Green, who flew nuclear strike aircraft and is now co-director of the Peace Foundation's Disarmament and Security Center, said at a news conference Wednesday that "the heart of this treaty" was the prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons.

The next priority stages in nuclear disarmament are the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and the swift introduction of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

"Right now", Carter added, "the USA government defies its existing disarmament obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty by planning to fund an extensive buildup of its nuclear arsenal".

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said 15,000 nuclear weapons around the world have not managed to deter Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions and a new approach is needed starting with prohibition as the first step to eliminate nuclear arms.

The treaty will be open for signatures as of September 20 and will enter into force when 50 countries have ratified it.

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