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We don’t want to be nuked

NEW YORK (SE): A total of 122 countries voted in favour of a motion put before the United Nations in New York on July 8 to ban nuclear weapons as an acceptable method of self-defence, while the Netherlands voted against the motion and Singapore abstained.
 
But while the vote was carried by an overwhelming majority of countries the big players in the nuclear game, the United States of America (US), France and Britain had voiced their opposition to the motion prior to the meeting and, along with Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel refused to take part in the debate.
 
The list of non-participants also includes some countries that do not have nuclear weapons, the most significant among them being Japan, which is the only country in the world to have ever been a victim of a nuclear attack.
 
But among the significant nations that voted in favour of the motion was Iran, which is often suspected of possessing nuclear weapons, but consistently denies the accusation.
 
The overwhelming vote rejects the notion that nuclear weapons can be a deterrent to attack from an outside hostile force, a belief which is being magnified by the fact that such an arsenal in the hands of North Korea’s Kim Jung-un and the president of the US, Donald Trump, leaves the rest of the world in dire danger.
 
“Only when we devalue all nuclear weapons by outlawing them through an international treaty can we reduce the risk of countries like North Korea developing them further,” Richard Tanter, the chairperson of the Australian Board of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, says.
 
Tanter points out that the historic decision to put a blanket ban on all countries across the board, and not just those that we dislike, for the first time in the 70-year history of nuclear weapons is a sign that the stigmatisation process has already begun.
 
He describes the vote as being a rebellion against the self-proclaimed right of the nuclear states and their allies to hold the whole world hostage.
 
Tanter sees the vote as a turning point in nuclear history, saying, “The nuclear ban treaty is not a guarantee that nuclear weapons will be abolished tomorrow, but it is the foundation for a new beginning in that historic struggle, starting from a global recognition of the undeniable catastrophic harm that any use of nuclear weapons in war will bring.”
 
It is also a statement of frustration after nearly half a century of waiting in vain for the nuclear states to take the non-proliferation treaty seriously.
 
In addition, it erases the hypothetical dividing line between what are regarded as Maverick nuclear states and those who can be trusted to use or not use them responsibly.
 
However, data published recently by the Stockholm Institute for Peace show that disarmament is not happening at all, as the opposition to the ban is strong and it is one of the so-called trusted nations that is shoving the biggest spanner in the works.
 
The United Kingdom is sticking closely with its decision of last year to ramp up its four nuclear ballistic missiles and the Trident System it leases from the US.
 
Tanter concludes, “Nuclear weapons, whether Russian, Chinese, North Korean or American, are the antithesis of sustainable global security.”
 
Not surprisingly, the US, France and Great Britain issued a joint statement rejecting the treaty, saying, “It does not offer any solution to the serious threat posed by the North Korean nuclear programme, nor does it address other security challenges that require nuclear deterrence.”

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