Nations Sign Historic Nuclear Weapons Ban; US, Russia Abstain

Nations Sign Historic Nuclear Weapons Ban; US, Russia Abstain

Nations Sign Historic Nuclear Weapons Ban; US, Russia Abstain

The president of the U.N. conference drafting what could be the first treaty to ban nuclear weapons says 129 countries have agreed on the text, which is expected to be formally adopted Friday although all nuclear-armed nations are boycotting the effort.

The treaty - adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore) - prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

Elayne Whyte Gomez is president of the United Nations conference that negotiated the legally binding treaty.

"This treaty is a strong categorical prohibition of nuclear weapons and is really rooted in humanitarian law", said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, to The New York Times.

"The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years", since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 at the end of World War II, she said.

France's security and defence policy, just like those of the allies and other close partners, is based on nuclear deterrence.

In a joint press statement issued today, the delegations of the United States, United Kingdom and France said they "have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty... and do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it..."

A ban that doesn't address these concerns "cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country's security", they said.

The treaty, no doubt, will compliment and strengthen the global architecture on nuclear disarmament and the non-proliferation regime.

That pact sought to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers - the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China.

The treaty is meant to bar countries from developing, testing, manufacturing, acquiring or even possessing any kind of nuclear weapon. Four others known or suspected to possess nuclear weapons - Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea - also refused to partake.

Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland voted in favor as did Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Kazakhstan and many African and Latin American countries.

The treaty was signed at the United Nations on Friday, July 7.

"We will use (the ban) to stop further nukes being made, used or deployed", she said. It advocated that the treaty recognize the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, that it be based on worldwide humanitarian law, and that it contain a clear and unambiguous prohibition.

Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of Justice and Peace Europe, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the USA bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued today a declaration arguing for "the total elimination of nuclear weapons".

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