First Treaty to Ban Nukes Becomes Law 01/22 06:12
The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on Friday,
hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its deadliest weapons but
strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations.
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered
into force on Friday, hailed as a historic step to rid the world of its
deadliest weapons but strongly opposed by the world's nuclear-armed nations.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is now part of
international law, culminating a decades-long campaign aimed at preventing a
repetition of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of
World War II. But getting all nations to ratify the treaty requiring them to
never own such weapons seems daunting, if not impossible, in the current global
When the treaty was approved by the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, more
than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to
possess nuclear weapons --- the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France,
India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel --- supported it and neither did the
30-nation NATO alliance.
Japan, the world's only country to suffer nuclear attacks, also does not
support the treaty, even though the aged survivors of the bombings in 1945
strongly push for it to do so. Japan on its own renounces use and possession of
nuclear weapons, but the government has said pursuing a treaty ban is not
realistic with nuclear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it.
Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign
to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose
work helped spearhead the treaty, called it "a really big day for international
law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."
The treaty received its 50th ratification on Oct. 24, triggering a 90-day
period before its entry into force on Jan. 22.
As of Thursday, Fihn told The Associated Press that 61 countries had
ratified the treaty, with another ratification possible on Friday, and "from
Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law" in all those
The treaty requires that all ratifying countries "never under any
circumstances ... develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire,
possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." It
also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices
--- and the threat to use such weapons --- and requires parties to promote the
treaty to other countries.
Fihn said the treaty is "really, really significant" because it will now be
a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward
civilians and soldiers during war and the conventions banning chemical and
biological weapons and land mines.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the treaty demonstrated support
for multilateral approaches to nuclear disarmament.
"Nuclear weapons pose growing dangers and the world needs urgent action to
ensure their elimination and prevent the catastrophic human and environmental
consequences any use would cause," he said in a video message. "The elimination
of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United
But not for the nuclear powers.
As the treaty was approaching the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its
entry into force, the Trump administration wrote a letter to countries that
signed it saying they made "a strategic error" and urging them to rescind their
The letter said the treaty "turns back the clock on verification and
disarmament" and would endanger the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty, considered the cornerstone of nonproliferation efforts.
Fihn countered at the time that a ban could not undermine nonproliferation
since it was "the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty."
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the
treaty's arrival was a historic step forward in efforts to free the world of
nuclear weapons and "hopefully will compel renewed action by nuclear-weapon
states to fulfill their commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear
Fihn said in an interview that the campaign sees strong public support for
the treaty in NATO countries and growing political pressure, citing Belgium and
Spain. "We will not stop until we get everyone on board," she said.
It will also be campaigning for divestment --- pressuring financial
institutions to stop giving capital to between 30 and 40 companies involved in
nuclear weapons and missile production including Airbus, Boeing and Lockheed