The international treaty banning nuclear weapons was ratified by a 50e country, Honduras, and it will be able to come into force within 90 days, a UN official told Agence France Presse on Saturday (October 24). “Today is a victory for humanity and the promise of a more secure future”, commented in a statement Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) who welcomed, like other NGOs, the milestone thus crossed.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – which prohibits the use, development, production, testing, stationing, stockpiling and threat of use of such weapons – had been approved by the General Assembly of Nations united in July 2017 with the support of 122 countries. And it has now been signed by 84 countries. “Honduras has just ratified the treaty, it’s the 50e State, which is historic and allows its entry into force ”, rejoiced on its Twitter account the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
This NGO won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 for its role in the development of this treaty.
Stigmatize nuclear weapons
Major countries with nuclear weapons, including the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, have not signed it.
Pro-abolition activists hope its ratification will have the same impact as previous international treaties banning landmines and cluster munitions: stigmatizing the possession and use of nuclear weapons, which could lead to behavior change, even from non-signatory countries.
Nuclear-weapon states, for their part, claim that their arsenals serve as a deterrent and say they are committed to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to prevent the dissemination of nuclear weapons to other countries. “Too many people accept nuclear weapons as an inevitable part of the international security architecture”, said Peter Maurer. “The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty allows us to imagine a world free from these inhuman weapons as an achievable goal”, he added.
Several countries have recently ratified the treaty, including Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta, Tuvalu. With the ratification by Honduras, its entry into force should take place around January 21.
This step, for the moment extremely symbolic, takes place in a context of strong tensions on the question of disarmament.
The Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) signed in 1987 between Washington and Moscow, which resulted in the destruction of approximately 2,700 missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km, has been de facto dead since 2019, to the chagrin Europeans. US President Donald Trump pulled out after accusing Russia of not respecting him.
Since then, the US-Russian New Start treaty concluded in 2010, which expires in early 2021, is considered the last nuclear deal still in force, containing the arsenals of the two countries below their Cold War peaks.
The two countries have just agreed on the principle of a one-year extension, while the substantive issues are settled.