Global rifts over nuclear weapon ban

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Nuclear missiles

Plans for a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons have created divisions between countries that have such weapons and those that do not, diplomats said on Friday.

The diplomats made this known at the end of a 120-country meeting on global control of nuclear technology.

The two-week conference reviewed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which obliges countries with nuclear weapons to disarm, without imposing any time frame.

In return, non-nuclear countries pledge not to build nuclear arsenals.

Frustrated with the lack of disarmament by powers like the U.S. and Russia, more than 100 countries in March began negotiating a separate treaty that would ban nuclear weapons outright.

Summing up the views of countries that back a total ban, the final document of the Vienna meeting said the new treaty “would not undermine the NPT but would rather reaffirm, complement, support and strengthen” it.

However, nuclear states and their allies said that the new treaty, which might be concluded as early as July, is counterproductive.

“You cannot ignore the role that nuclear weapons play in providing security,” U.S. envoy Robert Wood told reporters, pointing to Washington’s role in protecting Japan and South Korea from North Korea.

North Korea’s nuclear tests were also discussed in Vienna, with many countries condemning its test explosions and ballistic missile tests.

The Vienna conference was the first of three annual preparatory meetings leading up to a formal NPT review conference in 2020.


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