UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Comes into Force

A United Nations treaty banning the production, possession, and use of nuclear weapons comes into effect on Jan. 22 in the 51 countries that ratified it by Oct. 24 last year.

A United Nations treaty banning the production, possession, and use of nuclear weapons comes into effect on Jan. 22 in the 51 countries that ratified it by Oct. 24 last year.

Adopted in 2017 with 122 member states voting in favor, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons lists the prohibitions on participating in nuclear weapon activities, such as developing, testing, and transferring such weapons.

The treaty states that its signatories consider “that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law.”

The treaty also places obligations on the signatories to assist the victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and to remediate areas contaminated by such arms.

Included in the 51 countries that ratified the treaty are Nigeria, Mexico, South Africa, New Zealand, and Honduras.

However, the treaty is not legally binding to the countries that did not sign it, including Russia, Japan, and North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at a session in the parliament on Jan. 21 said that his government “has no intention of joining” the treaty.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last Nov. 10 at a conference, “The ban treaty has no mechanism to ensure the balanced reduction of weapons and no mechanism for verification.”

“Moreover, it has not been signed by any state that possesses nuclear weapons. Simply giving up our deterrent without any guarantees that others will do the same is a dangerous option. Because a world where Russia, China, North Korea and others have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world,” Stoltenberg further said.


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