Talks on banning nuclear weapons begin in UN

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The inter-governmental negotiations on hammering out a convention on the prohibition and total elimination of nuclear weapons are getting underway at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday. The first stage of the conference will last until March 31 and will be held without Russia, which is opposed to adopting the treaty along with other nuclear powers, including the United States, the UK and France.

The decision on drafting the convention was made by the UN General Assembly last December. The corresponding resolution was supported by more than 100 countries, while Russia and 35 other countries voted against it. China was the only Security Council permanent member-country which abstained. The resolution noted the need to hold a conference with a view to developing a legally binding tool for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which will lead to their complete elimination.

Nuclear powers, including Russia and the US have initially been opposed to the idea of passing a convention banning nuclear weapons. Mikhail Ulyanov, Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Department, told reporters last October that the concept proposed by the co-authors of the General Assembly’s resolution makes no sense whatsoever. "All that looks like nonsense, because non-nuclear countries will prohibit what they do not have," he noted. Ulyanov added that "this is largely a political and propaganda move," and no one calculated its effects for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

On February 28, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov spoke out in favor of boosting cooperation between the nuclear powers commenting on the upcoming consultations in the UN. "We proceed from the assumption that nuclear weapons are a factor of maintaining stability, a factor that ensures international security, guarantees our security and protects the world from the most horrific conflicts," he emphasized.

For its part, the US administration said it will try to persuade other UN member-counties to vote against the convention. According to Christopher Ford, National Security Council’s Senior Director for weapons of mass destruction and counter-proliferation, this ban will not promote peace and security throughout the world.

Meanwhile, North Korea refused to take part in the conference. The country’s Foreign Ministry said that Pyongyang "needs to step up its military deterrence capabilities, including nuclear forces," in the face of the threat coming from the US and South Korea.

The delegations of some non-nuclear powers, including Australia, will not take part in the forum either. According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the proposed convention on the prohibition of nuclear weapons offers no practical ways towards effective disarmament, while nuclear deterrence continues to be the cornerstone of international security.

2017.03.27 / 12:12
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