News ID: 196278
Published: 0250 GMT July 08, 2017
Nuclear-armed nations boycott treaty

122 countries approve first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty

122 countries approve first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty

More than 120 countries approved the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons Friday at a UN meeting boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations.

To loud applause and cheers, Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the UN conference that has been negotiating the legally binding treaty, announced the results of the "historic" vote - 122 nations in favor, the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining, AP reported.

"We have managed to sow the first seeds of a world free of nuclear weapons," Whyte Gomez said. "We (are) ... saying to our children that, yes, it is possible to inherit a world free from nuclear weapons."

"The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years," since atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 at the end of World War II, she said.

Gomez said the vote was “historic,” emphasizing that the treaty was “the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty to be concluded in more than 20 years.” 

“It’s been seven decades since the world knew the power of destruction of nuclear weapons and since day one there was a call to prohibit nuclear weapons,” she noted.

Iran, which signed a nuclear agreement with six major powers in 2015, was among the countries that voted for the treaty. Its representative stressed the importance of the treaty's prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons.

On Saturday, the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the Islamic Republic, as a major victim of weapons of mass destruction, fully supports the United Nations’ adoption of a global treaty banning nuclear weapons, Press TV reported.

The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly supports the objective of the treaty, Najafi said.

Iran is itself a victim of weapons of mass destruction, he said, highlighting the religious decree (fatwa) issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei describing any use of nuclear arms as forbidden.

He also hailed the UN conference negotiating the treaty for making a reference in the document’s text to the contribution of religious leaders to efforts towards nuclear disarmament.

None of the eight countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israeli regime – is supporting the treaty. Many of their allies also did not attend the meeting.

In a joint statement, the UN ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France said their countries don't intend to ever become party to the treaty. 

They said it "clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment" and "is incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years."

The treaty offers no solution to address security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary, the three ambassadors said.

A ban that doesn't address these concerns "cannot result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon and will not enhance any country's security," they said. "It will do the exact opposite by creating even more divisions at a time when the world needs to remain united in the face of growing threats."

The US, Britain and France along with other nuclear powers instead want to strengthen the nearly half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.

All NATO members boycotted the treaty negotiations except for the Netherlands, which has US nuclear weapons on its territory and was urged by its parliament to send a delegation.

The Netherlands deputy UN Ambassador Lise Gregoire-Van-Haaren told delegates her country couldn't vote for a treaty that went against its NATO obligations, had inadequate verification provisions or that undermined the NPT - and "this draft does not meet our criteria."

The treaty requires of all ratifying countries "never under any circumstances to 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.

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