Global nuclear weapons ban begins without nuclear powers


New York, Jan 22: The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons en-tered into force 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 US 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 climate. 

When the treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, more than 120 approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nu-clear 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 nu-clear and non-nuclear states so sharply divided over it. 

Nonetheless, Beatrice Fihn, ex-ecutive 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 in-ternational law, for the United Nations and for survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

” The treaty received its 50th rat-ification 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 an-other ratification possible on Friday and “from Friday, nuclear weapons will be banned by international law” in all those countries. 

The treaty requires that all rat-ifying countries “never under any circumstances … Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nu-clear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive de-vices — and the threat to use such weapons —and requires parties to promote the treaty to other coun-tries.

 Film said the treaty is “really, re-ally significant” because it will now be a key legal instrument, along with the Geneva Conventions on conduct toward civilians and sol-diers during war and the conven-tions banning chemical and bio-logical weapons and land mines. 

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