Treaty banning nukes ratified but US, major powers not on board

The United Nations has announced that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the US and the other major nuclear powers.

As of Friday, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, had 49 signatories, and UN officials said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received.

“This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty. “The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal.”

“The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons,” Fihn said.

“This treaty is the UN at its best — working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.”

The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter, which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the 50 states and saluted “the instrumental work” of civil society in facilitating negotiations.

The US had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made “a strategic error” and urging them to rescind their ratification. The US letter, obtained by The Associated Press, said the five original nuclear powers – the US, Russia, China, Britain and France – and America’s NATO allies “stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty.

It says the treaty “turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous” to the half-century-old Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global non-proliferation efforts.

“The TPNW is and will remain divisive in the international community and risk further entrenching divisions in existing non-proliferation and disarmament fora that offer the only realistic prospect for consensus-based progress,” the letter said.

“It would be unfortunate if the TPNW were allowed to derail our ability to work together to address pressing proliferation.”

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