160 Nations Call for Ban on Nuclear Arms

160 Nations Call for Ban on Nuclear Arms 160 Nations Call for Ban on Nuclear Arms

Austria on Tuesday called for banning nuclear weapons because of their catastrophic humanitarian effects, an initiative it said now has the backing of 159 countries.

“The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination,” Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told the 191 parties to the treaty, the world’s benchmark arms control accord. “All states share the responsibility to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.”

Kurz, 28, was speaking at the five-year review conference of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Reuters reported.

Diplomats from the 159 countries supporting the ban, presented ahead of the 70th anniversary of the United States atom bombs dropped on Japan, said the initiative was modeled on successful campaigns to ban land mines and other weapons and could take years to move forward.

The initiative has virtually no support among NPT nuclear weapons states and veto-wielding Security Council members - the US, Britain, France, Russia and China - or the countries of NATO, an alliance that provides a kind of “nuclear umbrella” security guarantee for its members. However, most of the 193 UN members back it.

The five permanent Security Council members signed the NPT as nuclear weapons states, although the pact calls on them to negotiate the reduction and eventual elimination of their arms caches. Non-nuclear states complain that there have been too few steps toward nuclear disarmament.