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UN Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Gathers 50 Ratifications, Goes into Force in Early 2021

© Photo : Nuclear Weapon ArchiveOperation Plumbob Stokes US nuclear weapons test, predicted yield 10-20 kt, August 7, 1957.
Operation Plumbob Stokes US nuclear weapons test, predicted yield 10-20 kt, August 7, 1957. - Sputnik International
In July 2017, the UN General Assembly voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which includes a comprehensive set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities. The agreement was opened for signature in September of that year and set to enter into force 90 days after gathering 50 signatures.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is expected to come into force on 22 January 2021 after receiving 50 signatures, after being ratified by Honduras on Saturday, and by Jamaica and Nauru on Friday, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) announced on Saturday.

The non-profit international campaign, which helped bring about the TPNW treaty, explained that the agreement’s coming into force means nuclear weapons will see a categorical ban “just like chemical weapons and biological weapons”.

“This is a historic milestone for this landmark treaty. Prior to the TPNW’s adoption, nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not banned under international law, despite their catastrophic humanitarian consequences,” ICAN said in a press release. “Now, with the treaty’s entry into force, we can call nuclear weapons what they are: prohibited weapons of mass destruction, just like chemical weapons and biological weapons.”

Beatrice Fihn, ICAN’s executive director, welcomed the submission of the fiftieth ratification of the treaty, describing it as a historic moment and “a new chapter for nuclear disarmament”.

“This is a new chapter for nuclear disarmament. Decades of activism have achieved what many said was impossible: nuclear weapons are banned,” the director of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition said.

Later in the day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the ratification of the TPNW by 50 countries, expressing his gratitude to those nations that have ratified the treaty and welcoming the work of the civil society.

“[The treaty] represents a meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations,” Guterres said, according to spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was signed at the UN in July 2017. NATO member countries have refused to sign the agreement.

In October 2018, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States, and France jointly stated that they opposed the treaty and refused to sign it. The opposition to the TPNW claimed that the treaty does not take into account key problems that must be first solved to achieve sustainable nuclear disarmament on a global scale, and is also contrary to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which may complicate further disarmament.

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