U.N. Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Approved by Nations That Don’t Have Nukes

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Prohibited. Photo: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

The United Nations on Friday finalized a landmark treaty calling for the complete destruction and outright prohibition of nuclear weapons until the end of time. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was approved by 122 of the U.N.’s 192 nations.

“The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years,” said Costa Rica’s Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez, who led negotiations for the treaty. “We have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons.”

There’s one major problem with the treaty though: None of the nations currently in possession of nuclear weapons approved it. In fact, those countries (the U.S., Russia, North Korea, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and Israel) boycotted the negotiations of the treaty. So too did all of the NATO member nations except for the Netherlands, which was the only country to participate but vote against finalizing the treaty.

Open to signatures in September and needing 50 signatures to come into force, the treaty says all ratifying nations should never “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Nikki Haley, the United States ambassador to the U.N., criticized it in March when negotiations began. “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons,” she said, “but we have to be realistic.”

On Friday, the U.S., United Kingdom, and France put out a joint statement saying the three nations “do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to” the treaty.

“This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment,” the statement says. “A purported ban on nuclear weapons that does not address the security concerns that continue to make nuclear deterrence necessary cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and security.”

Treaty Banning Nukes Approved by Nations That Don’t Have Any