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Ban nuclear weapons
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 04 - 2017

armed nation has ever expressed support for a ban treaty and they will not start now. In New York this week, 40 nations would not participate in the first-ever talks on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons. By contrast, the talks are supported by more than 120 countries. But in this case the majority does not rule. The US and a number of other nations that actually have nuclear weapons are the ones who boycotted the talks.
The decision to shun the talks clashes with each government's obligations to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that has been in force since 1970. The nations that signed the NPT pledged not to release nuclear weapons, or in any way help others acquire or build them. Furthermore, the countries promised "to move toward a gradual reduction of their arsenals of nuclear weapons with the ultimate goal of complete nuclear disarmament".
According to the NPT, the five permanent members of the Security Council are the only countries allowed to have nuclear weapons. But there are at least four other countries who possess nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan, who have refused to sign the NPT, are two examples. Israel, although it has never carried out a public test, has at least 200 weapons of mass destruction. North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003 and has been carrying out nuclear tests with increasing frequency over the past few years.
US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says a ban would mean "bad actors" could develop weapons unchecked while the nations that were trying to keep peace and safety are the ones being asked to disarm. But of course, in 1945, one of these so-called safe pair of hands – America - Haley's own country, dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Just five years after that, 54 percent of the original population had died from the two explosions.
Nuclear powers say an outright ban would not work and that the time is not right. But if anything, this is the time to push harder to eliminate the weapons that turned cities in Japan to dust. Nuclear weapons represent one of the biggest threats to civilization. A nuclear war would be catastrophic even if the war involved only a small fraction of the roughly 14,000 nuclear weapons that today's nuclear powers control.
Reaching a treaty might be a dream but there have been encouraging efforts that have led to landmark prohibitions on other weapons, including chemical weapons, land mines and cluster munitions. If a sufficient number of countries were to ratify a nuclear weapons ban, it would create political and moral pressure on holdouts, including the big nuclear powers. A treaty would help create a new international norm of rejecting atomic arms. After that, the resources spent on nuclear weapon development could be used for more worthy causes, such as poverty.
Public awareness of the nuclear threat has waned but the risk of a nuclear detonation is higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War. With the unpredictability of the current world situation, it is more important than ever to get negotiations about a ban on nuclear weapons going and to make these negotiations a truly global effort.
The UN is correct in considering a total ban. In total, nine countries possess nuclear weapons in a world of increasing aggression and decreasing diplomacy. One false alarm or one misunderstood move could trigger an all-out war.
It is almost impossible to totally eliminate nuclear weapons but the attempt is still necessary, especially given what's at stake. The catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would follow the use of nuclear weapons make the goal a moral and ethical necessity.


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