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51 Countries Sign Treaty Outlawing Creation And Ownership Of Nuclear Weapons

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51 Countries Sign Treaty Outlawing Creation And Ownership Of Nuclear WeaponsPA Images

The world’s first ever treaty opposing the creation of nuclear weapons came into force today, without the support of any of the world’s nuclear powers.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved by 120 nations at the UN General Assembly in July 2017, and officially came into force on January 22 after crossing the 50-nation ratification threshold in October 2020.

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According to the Associated Press as many as 61 countries have now ratified the treaty, which prevents signatories from creating or possessing any nuclear weapons.

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The Treaty requires that countries must ‘never under any circumstances … develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,’ marking the first time nuclear weapons ban has passed into international law. Among the UN member states to have ratified the treaty are New Zealand, South Africa, Mexico and Ireland, the latter of which being one of only two EU members to have signed the treaty.

Though the passage of the treaty has been hailed as a landmark moment in the campaign to stop nuclear proliferation, critics have questioned how effective it will be without the support of the world’s major powers. None of the nine countries known to possess nuclear weapons voted in favour of the treaty at the 2017 UN summit, while the 30-nation NATO alliance also refused to back it.

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The treaty is the culmination of a decades-long campaign led by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and supported by survivors of the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings – to this day the only time nuclear weapons have been used in armed conflict.

Despite pressure from survivors, Japan has not supported the treaty, saying that while the country is itself opposed to nuclear weapons, the ban was unrealistic without the support of nuclear nations.

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In a video message, UN secretary general Antonia Guterres celebrated the treaty, saying:

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Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental consequences any use would cause.

The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations.

The United Nations has faced criticism in the past for failing to prevent or reduce global nuclear proliferation. Despite officially being committed to nuclear disarmament as signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, nuclear powers like the United States, United Kingdom and Russia continue to hold nuclear stockpiles, with the US calling the new treaty ‘a strategic error’ in a letter sent following its ratification in October.

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Topics: News, Now, United Nations

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Associated Press
  1. Associated Press

    First-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons enters into force

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