Treaty banning nuclear weapons opens for signature at UN

Treaty banning nuclear weapons opens for signature at UN

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons opens for signatures Wednesday at the U.N. General Assembly's annual ministerial meeting attended by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in NY.

As the UNGA tackles issues ranging from climate change to migration, United Nations member states will have the opportunity to sign the newly negotiated Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a legally binding pact banning the development, acquisition, or possession of nuclear weapons among its signatories.

Two anti-nuclear weapons campaigners scaled the entrance awning of Australia's foreign ministry and unfurled a banner on Wednesday to protest the government's failure to endorse a United Nations nuclear disarmament treaty.

The Treaty - adopted on 7 July this year at a United Nations conference in NY by a vote of 122 in favour to one against (Netherlands), with one abstention (Singapore) - prohibits a full range of nuclear-weapon-related activities, such as undertaking to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as well as the use or threat of use of these weapons.

The first treaty to ban nuclear weapons is ready for countries to sign at the United Nations.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters Monday that France refused to take part in negotiations on the treaty because it can only weaken the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, considered the cornerstone of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It has also called on Belgium not to equip future fighter planes with nuclear capability. Its treaty office said 51 countries were expected to sign on the opening day.

The President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajc√°k, noted at the ceremony that the Treaty demonstrates the will of Member States to bring about change. "We can not allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children's future", UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as he opened the treaty for signing.

"At a time when the world needs to remain united in the face of growing threats, in particular the grave threat posed by North Korea's nuclear program, the treaty fails to take into account these urgent security challenges", the 29-nation Western alliance said. He called the nuclear ban treaty "wishful thinking" that is "close to irresponsible". "We can not allow these doomsday weapons to endanger our world and our children's future", he said.

Ethiopia's U.N. Mission, which holds the council presidency, said nine presidents, three vice presidents, six prime ministers, three deputy prime ministers and more than 30 foreign ministers are scheduled to attend the daylong session.

In the General Assembly, leaders from several dozen countries will address the 193-member world body, including the presidents of Iran and Ukraine, the prime ministers of Japan and the United Kingdom, and the Palestinian leader.

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