The United States, along with Britain and France, say they will never become party to a global treaty that was endorsed by 122 countries at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The United Nations on Friday took a historic step in the effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons, adopting for the first time a legally binding global agreement that would ban nuclear weapons since their invention.
However, the conference was boycotted by all nuclear-armed nations and many of their allies. None of the nine nuclear powers — the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — is supporting the treaty.
The US, UK and France, permanent members of the UN Security Council, said in a joint statement Friday that the treaty “clearly disregards the realities of international security” which make deterrence a necessity.
“France, the United Kingdom and the United States have not taken part in the negotiation of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it,” the statement said.
“This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment. Accession to the ban treaty 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 three countries reiterated their continued commitment to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), a 1968 pact that aims to prevent the spread of the nuclear weapons outside the original five nuclear powers: the US, Britain, France Russia and China.
The United States was the first country to develop nuclear weapons and is the only country to have used it against another nation. The US currently has an estimated 7,000 nuclear warheads, second only to Russia.
The 10-page UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was finalized this week after months of talks undertaken by negotiators from 129 member nations, of which 122 countries voted in favor of the treaty.
The treaty requires of all ratifying countries to “never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
“The world has been waiting for this legal norm for 70 years,” Elayne Whyte Gómez, the chairwoman of the negotiating conference and Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN, said at the conclusion of the vote, as representatives burst into applause.
The vote “the first step to prevent a handful of militaries holding the world hostage with their nuclear arsenals,” said Rebecca Johnson of the London-based Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy.