UN treaty banning nuclear weapons now law

Vatican City: The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has come into effect signed by 86 countries, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

The legally binding instrument is the result of a 2017 United Nations effort to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

The treaty bans participation in any nuclear weapon activity. It includes “undertakings not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten the use of nuclear weapons”, according to the UN. It also prohibits the use of the weapons on national territories.

A ground-based intercontinental ballistic missile is launched from Plesetsk facility in north-western Russia in December.Credit:RDM/AP

The United States, Britain, France and other nuclear powers have not signed the treaty and boycotted talks that led to it.

Pope Francis on Wednesday urged more nations to join it, saying their prohibition was badly needed to promote peace.

"I strongly encourage all states and all people to work with determination to promote the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons, thus contributing to the advancement of peace and multilateral cooperation, which humanity needs so very much today," Francis said.

During a visit in 2019 to Nagasaki, one of two cities hit by atomic bombs in history, Francis said the mere possession of nuclear weapons, even for the purpose of deterrence, was "perverse" and indefensible.

A separate arms control treaty – known as New START – between the United States and Russia, which limits the countries to deploying no more than 1550 strategic nuclear warheads each, is due to expire on February 5.

On Friday AEDT, the White House said new US President Joe Biden has proposed it be extended by five years.

The Kremlin has said it remained committed to extending it and would welcome efforts promised by the Biden administration to reach agreement.

Reuters, with staff writers

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