July 7, 2017: United Nations, New York:
On July 7, 2017, 122 nations voted for a treaty, to legally prohibit the development, testing, production, manufacture, possession, stockpiling, use, or threat of use of nuclear weapons. This unambiguously demonstrates that the majority of the world’s countries have indeed come to their senses regarding nuclear weapons. The United States and the other nuclear-armed nations boycotted the negotiations and refused to sign. The Netherlands participated in the negotiations but voted against. It hosts nuclear weapons belonging to the United States. The Doomsday Clock is ticking…When will the US and the other nuclear-armed states come to their senses?”
The next major step will be to get those governments which voted for the treaty to sign it when it opens for signature on September 20, and then to ratify it. The treaty requires 50 states to formally join before it enters into force. This should occur soon, and when it does, the treaty will become international law.
Our next priority is educating the public about the treaty so that we can build the popular pressure needed in our own country as well as the other nuclear-armed countries and those that host nuclear weapons (NATO, Japan, South Korea etc.) to eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
“Despite the promises of past administration, the United States has 6,970 nuclear weapons, and spends approximately $61.3 billion per year on maintaining the arsenal – 20 times the cost of the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Deal, and 15 times the funding gap of the global refugee crisis. The United States is considering modernizing its nuclear arsenal, with $1.2 trillion in costs over 30 years,” according to Kate Alexander, the Director of Policy and Outreach at Peace Action New York State. “These costs are unnecessary and dangerously erode our nation’s fiscal and national security priorities”.
Clearly we have a long way to go, but this treaty is a step forward and opens new avenues for addressing this major issue. For some ideas as to what these avenues might be, check out this article by Zia Mian in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.