Editorial: New, clear

The United Nations has announced that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the United States and the other major nuclear powers.

As of Friday, the treaty had 49 signatories, and UN officials said the 50th ratification from Honduras had been received. This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone, said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize-winning coalition whose work helped spearhead the nuclear ban treaty.

The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal. The 50th ratification came on the 75th anniversary of the ratification of the UN Charter which officially established the United Nations and is celebrated as UN Day. The United Nations was formed to promote peace with a goal of the abolition of nuclear weapons, Fihn said.

This treaty is the UN at its best working closely with civil society to bring democracy to disarmament.

The United States had written to treaty signatories saying the Trump administration believes they made a strategic error and urging them to rescind their ratification. The US letter, obtained by ‘The Associated Press’, said the five original nuclear powers — the US, Russia, China, Britain and France — and America’s NATO allies stand unified in our opposition to the potential repercussions of the treaty. It says the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, known as the TPNW, turns back the clock on verification and disarmament and is dangerous to the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of global nonproliferation efforts.

The TPNW is and will remain divisive in the international community and risk further entrenching divisions in existing nonproliferation and disarmament fora that offer the only realistic prospect for consensus-based progress, the letter said. It would be unfortunate if the TPNW were allowed to derail our ability to work together to address pressing proliferation. Nuclear weapons, which are destructive, should go away and the energy should be used for positive purposes.