By: Savannah Smith | 03-28-2017 | News
Photo credit: Witold Krasawski |

U.S. Boycotts UN Talks On Nuclear Weapons Ban

The U.S. has become the newest unlikely ally of China and Russia- on boycotting latest UN talks on banning nuclear weapons, that is.

More than 100 nations voted yes to a UN General Assembly resolution last year to start discussions on nuclear disarmament. The effort was led by countries Austria, Brazil and Ireland, among others. These countries are pushing that it is now the time to start eliminating nuclear weapons, close to 50 years since the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed.

UN undersecretary general for disarmament Kim Won-soo said in the opening of the talks that the need for progress on nuclear disarmament cannot be more urgent than now with international tensions rising, and at a time when public awareness of the nuclear threat has decreased.

US ambassador Nikki Haley explained why the U.S. decided to boycott the talks. Haley said that as a mother and daughter, there was nothing she wants more but a world without nuclear weapons. She warned, however, of the greater need to be "realistic".

She joined her colleagues from the UK, France and 20 other countries, including non-nuclear states, in gathering outside the UN General Assembly Hall in New York as a show of force in opposing the talks.

Haley argued that the move would mean disarming nations that were trying to keep peace and safety while " bad actors" could continue their nuclear arms unchecked. Haley pointed to North Korea's case. She said the move to disarm now would inspire North Korea to cheer while the rest of the world and their people would be the ones put at risk.

Those who are against a ban prefer a gradual disarmament arguing that an outright ban would not work. Haley said that the U.S., in fact, has reduced its nuclear arsenal by 85 per cent under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft said that the UK has also cut its nuclear forces by over 50 percent since the height of the Cold War. French deputy ambassador Alexis Lamek said that countries such as France continue to rely on nuclear deterrence for security and stability.

China and Russian representatives did not join Haley and the other boycotters' news conference but they have sent words that they will not attend the talks.

The talks wish to create a "legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their elimination".

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty signed in 1968 recognized five nuclear states -the US, the UK, USSR ( now Russia), China and France- and agreed to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. They also agreed to a gradual decommissioning of atomic weapons.

There are countries who are believed to have nuclear weapons but refused to sign the treaty like India and Pakistan. Israel is also a non-signatory to the agreement but while it has remained quiet on its nuclear status and has never carried out nuclear arms public test, it is widely believed to own at least some weapons of mass destruction.

The most problematic and dangerous remains North Korea. It withdrew from the treaty in 2003 and over the past years has been carrying out nuclear tests with increasing frequency, creating much tensions especially with its neighbors South Korea and Japan, both US close allies in Asia.


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