European and United States bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons globally

Kristopher Drake
July 8, 2017

The treaty - adopted by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore) - prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said Thursday it was "overwhelmingly positive about the draft treaty", adding: "We are on the cusp of a truly historic moment-when the international community declares, unambiguously, for the first time, that nuclear weapons are not only immoral, but also illegal".

She said that following Wednesday's final review of the text, she is "convinced that we have achieved a general agreement on a robust and comprehensive prohibition on nuclear weapons".

"The theory only works if you are ready to use nuclear weapons, otherwise the other side will call your bluff", she said. The United States and the 8 other nuclear weapons armed states boycotted the process.

The basic premise, the treaty's opening passage states, is a recognition of "the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons", and an agreement that their complete elimination "remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances".

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

European and US bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons globally

But not one of the nine countries believed to possess nuclear weapons - the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel - is supporting the treaty.

That pact sought to prevent the spread of atomic arms beyond the five original weapons powers - the U.S., Russia, Britain, France and China. "The ban treaty is the start of a new worldwide movement that gives the United States an opportunity to break from its self-destructive nuclear weapons policy".

"For too long nuclear weapons have remained the only weapon of mass destruction not explicitly prohibited in global law".

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said March 27 when talks began on the nuclear weapons ban treaty that "there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons, but we have to be realistic". Not only does the treaty insist that the dangers posed by nuclear weapons "concern the security of all humanity", but it also calls the long-overdue elimination of nuclear weapons "a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests".

Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Washington-based Arms Control Association, applauded the treaty as a way to "delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use".

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