The United Nations on 22 May 2017 released the first draft of the nuclear ban treaty that would legally prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons, in the face of strong opposition from all the nuclear-armed states including the United States.
The draft was released in Geneva by Costa Rican UN ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, who is leading the UN conference negotiating the ban. It condemns the use of nuclear weapons, terming it as a violation of the international humanitarian law.
• The draft requires all the nations to make every effort to prevent the future use of nuclear weapons.
• It would also require the states to make a pledge to never use the weapons and also to never develop, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, transfer or test them.
• The states possessing the weapons would be obliged to destroy them under the treaty.
• The draft also rejects the concept of nuclear deterrence promoted by nuclear-armed countries.
The next round of negotiations on the treaty is scheduled to begin on 15 June 2017 in New York. The treaty would require the approval of 40 states to come into force. The draft is a culmination of a sustained campaign that has received support from over 100 non-nuclear states to disarm the nuclear-armed nations.
The nine known nuclear-armed states – the US, China, France, Russia, India, UK, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea- have opposed the ban treaty and so have the countries that rely on US’s concept of nuclear deterrence for protection including Japan and Australia.
The US and other nuclear powers argue that states should strengthen and improve the 47-year-old nuclear non-proliferation treaty instead of adopting a complete ban.
In fact Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, said on the sidelines of the opening day of the UN nuclear ban talks that the world was too unsafe for the US not to have nuclear weapons, hinting at the rising threat posed by North Korea, which conducted a series of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests in 2017 going against UN sanctions.