Over 120 nations adopt first treaty banning nuclear weapons

European and US bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons globally

European and US bishops call for elimination of nuclear weapons globally

After protracted worldwide talks, an estimated 129 nations are prepared to sign a global ban on nuclear weapons, the first ever such treaty and the first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in more than 20 years.

The treaty was adopted by a vote of 122 in favor with one country - NATO member The Netherlands - voting against, while Singapore abstained.

Elayne Whyte Gomez, president of the United Nations conference that has been negotiating the legally binding treaty, told reporters Thursday that "we are on the verge of adopting the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons".

Nuclear powers argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent against a nuclear attack and say they remain committed to gradual approach to disarmament outlined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The Draft of the UN Treaty to ban nuclear weapons would commit signers to "never use nuclear weapons and never develop, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear devises".

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"This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the global security environment", they said. It requires non-nuclear signatory nations to not pursue atomic weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five powers to move toward nuclear disarmament and to guarantee non-nuclear states' access to peaceful nuclear technology for producing energy.

In a joint statement, the U.N. ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France said their countries don't intend to ever become party to the treaty.

The treaty is based in humanitarian law and prohibits the development, testing, production, possession, or stockpiling of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, the transfer of such weapons, and also bans not only their use but the threat of their use. Four others known or suspected to possess nuclear weapons - Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea - also refused to partake.

The treaty refutes the claim made by a handful of states that they need nuclear weapons to ensure their own security, and that humanitarian consequences must somehow be balanced with those needs.

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"It is beyond question that nuclear weapons violate the laws of war and pose a clear danger to global security", said Beatrice Fihn, director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

In response to questions, Ms. Whyte Gómez stressed the importance of putting an worldwide legal norm in place as a first step towards achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world, explaining that when conditions later become ripe for those nuclear-armed States to join, an architecture by which to do so exists.

Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich, president of Justice and Peace Europe, and Bishop Oscar Cantú, chairman of the United States bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued today a declaration arguing for "the total elimination of nuclear weapons".

The vote, however, was celebrated by arms control groups, who said the treaty was a first real step toward eliminating nuclear arms.

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Committee members declined to comment on the discussion to reporters as they left the panel's secure hearing room. For his part, Stone said he wanted to testify to counter John Podesta's testimony from earlier in the day.

She added that the hibakusha, survivors of nuclear bombs, have been the driving force in the creation of the nuclear weapons prohibition treaty.

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