On Tuesday, President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” at his first address to the United Nations general assembly.
Naturally, this unprecedented bellicosity raised alarm bells within the halls established in the shadow of World War II to prevent another global conflict, especially one between nuclear powers.
In response, several nations the next day rushed to help expedite the process of banning nuclear weapons.
When it was voted for adoption in July, the nuclear weapons ban treaty received signatures from 122 nations, seeing every country in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Ireland, Austria, and several Southeast Asian and Pacific countries favoring it. After at least fifty nations sign it, it will take 90 days for it to go into effect.
However, the nations that did not participate in the signing ceremony were the ones that already possess nuclear weapons–the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea.
On the positive side, enough nations support the pact to make it effective. The downside is the pact won’t apply to countries where nuclear stockpiles currently exist. In addition, nuclear powers are the only UN members with permanent Security Council veto power.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said about the ban:
“The Treaty is an important step towards the universally-held goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. It is my hope that it will reinvigorate global efforts to achieve it. We cannot allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children’s future.”
The US, France, and the UK presented objections to the treaty in July when the treaty was first presented:
“This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment. Accession to the ban treaty is incompatible with the policy of nuclear deterrence, which has been essential to keeping the peace in Europe and North Asia for over 70 years.”
Instead, the United States and other nuclear-armed countries support the 1970-ratified Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which some regard as a much weaker protection against nuclear aggression.
Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis laid down the challenge to those other nations:
“We call upon them to join this date with history.”
As tensions flare between Washington and Pyongyang, the time to live up to the slogan “NO NUKES” has never been more appropriate.
Image credit: The District Sentinel