The United States is urging countries that have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons to withdraw their support as the pact nears the 50 ratifications needed to trigger its entry into force, which supporters say could happen this week.
The US letter to signatories says 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 “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.
“Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession,” the letter says.
The treaty requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances … Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” It also bans any transfer or use of nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices — and the threat to use such weapons — and requires parties to promote the treaty to other countries.
The treaty currently has 47 ratifications and needs 50 ratifications to trigger its entry into force in 90 days.
Friday has been an unofficial target because it is the eve of United Nations Day on October 24 which marks the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the U.N. Charter. The day has been observed since 1948 and this year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the UN.
Fihn stressed that the entry into force of the treaty will be “a really big deal” because it will become part of international law and will be raised in discussions on disarmament, war crimes and weapons.
“And I think that over time pressure will grow on the nuclear-armed states to join the treaty,” she said.