United Nations adopts treaty banning nuclear weapons despite U.S. opposition

European and US bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons globally

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, Costa Rica's ambassador to the U.N.in Geneva, told reporters Thursday that "this will be a historic moment and it will be the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to be concluded in more than 20 years".

She said, "The treaty will reinforce the stigma against the use of nuclear weapons. The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years". The decision of a large number of states - nuclear weapon states and other states possessing or not possessing nuclear weapons - not to participate in the negotiations, in Europe and Asia in particular, cogently illustrates this disparity.

140 countries are working together to produce a treaty that will make nuclear weapons illegal under global law.

The treaty is based in humanitarian law and prohibits the development, testing, production, possession, or stockpiling of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the transfer of such weapons, and also bans not only their use but the threat of their use.

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

"To ban nuclear weapons now would make us and our allies more vulnerable, and would strengthen bad actors like North Korea and Iran who would not abide by it", Nikki Haley, the USA ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters at the outset of negotiations for the treaty in March.


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

Iran, which signed an agreement with six major powers in 2015 to rein in its nuclear program, was among the countries that voted for the treaty.

Welcoming "an important step" towards a nuclear-free world, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty reflects growing "awareness of the catastrophic humanitarian consequences" of a nuclear war.

"We will use (the ban) to stop further nukes being made, used or deployed", she said.

She added that the hibakusha, survivors of nuclear bombs, have been the driving force in the creation of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty.

In response to questions, Ms. Whyte Gómez stressed the importance of putting an worldwide legal norm in place as a first step towards achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world, explaining that when conditions later become ripe for those nuclear-armed States to join, an architecture by which to do so exists.

North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile tests, including its July 3 launch, have become a timely argument for proponents and opponents of the treaty to ban atomic weapons.

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