Nuclear weapons ban snubbed by nuclear powers begins

By Mario Villar

United Nations, Jan 22 (efe-epa).- The Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, negotiated and approved in 2017 at the United Nations, officially began Friday after being ratified by 50 countries, despite opposition from atomic powers and organizations such as NATO.

It is the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty approved in more than two decades and in it the signatories agree, among other things, not to develop, acquire, store, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.

The document also includes procedures for countries with nuclear weapons that want to join in declaring and destroying their arsenals.

Its entry into force comes, as planned, 90 days after ratifying countries reached 50, a figure achieved in October thanks to Honduras.

More than 120 states that participated in the approval, 86 have signed the document and 51 have completed its ratification.

The proponents of the treaty admit that no atomic power is likely to join anytime soon, but they are confident that the new rule will contribute to increasing pressure in the long run to dump their arsenals.

All nuclear powers boycotted the treaty negotiations, both those officially recognized in the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (USA, UK, France, China and Russia) as well as the rest of countries known to have atomic bombs (North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel).

NATO members also didn’t participate in negotiations, with the exception of the Netherlands, which did, but has not joined the Treaty.

Several of these States have US nuclear weapons stationed in their territory and NATO opposes the treaty, claiming it will not lead to the elimination of “a single nuclear weapon” due to the absence of powers and the lack of verification mechanisms.

Polls by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Iceland and Italy have shown that about 80 percent of the population in those countries support the treaty.

The organization, founded in 2007 and which brings together hundreds of entities and NGOs in a hundred countries, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its key role in promoting this Treaty.

The UN celebrated the entry into force this Friday, highlighting the “decisive role of civil society” in the entire process and the “moral strength” that the work of survivors of the explosions and nuclear tests gives it.

“The entry into force of the treaty is a tribute to the unwavering advocacy efforts of these people,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message.

The Portuguese recalled that “nuclear weapons constitute a growing threat and the world must adopt urgent measures to eliminate them and avoid the catastrophic consequences of their use for humanity and the environment.”

“The elimination of nuclear weapons remains the top priority of the United Nations in the field of disarmament. I call on all States to work together to realize this ambition to promote common and collective security,” he said. EFE-EPA


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