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First Look UN looks to outlaw nuclear weapons: Could it happen? via The Christian Science Monitor

UN member countries voted Thursday to prepare a treaty that would ban nuclear weapons. The problem: all nine nuclear powers are united in opposing the resolution.

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“Given the tremendous humanitarian consequences of any nuclear explosion, we have to take action,” explained Thomas Hajnoczi, Austria’s ambassador to the UN, according to Bloomberg. “Nuclear weapons states always say it’s too early for such a treaty but we think the time is right to create legal norms to ban weapons of mass destruction.” Austria was one of the sponsors of Thursday’s resolution.

The nuclear nonproliferation treaty already helps prevent non-nuclear countries from acquiring the weapons and limits the production of new nuclear weapons. The United States also has a bilateral treaty with Russia, signed in 2011, to mutually draw down their stockpiles to 1,550 warheads. The new resolution also comes one year after the deal curbing Iran’s nuclear program.

But for countries with nuclear weapons, those sorts of measures are about as far as they are willing to go. A “ban treaty runs the risk of undermining regional security,” said Robert Wood, US special representative to the UN Conference on Disarmament, on October 14. He said that the US would refuse to participate in any conference that aimed to eliminate nuclear weapons completely.

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Proponents of the treaty note that nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not currently banned. They point to the success of a treaty banning landmines as evidence that the international community can pressure countries to stop using certain weapons, even if these countries are not part of the initial treaty-elaboration process.

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