Just days before the U.N. treaty to ban nuclear weapons is expected to be enforced, the United States is now urging countries that have already ratified to withdraw their support. The treaty currently has 47 ratifications, which means that it only needs three more member countries to express their support for its to be enforced within the next 90 days.
According to The Associated Press, the United States had reportedly sent letters to the treaty's signatories, telling them that the five original nuclear powers - Russia, China, UK, France and the U.S. - stood "unified" in their opposition to the "potential repercussions" of the nuclear treaty. The letter, which the publication had intercepted, stated that nuclear disarmament was "dangerous" as it could untangle the half-century-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
"Although we recognize your sovereign right to ratify or accede to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), we believe that you have made a strategic error and should withdraw your instrument of ratification or accession," the U.S. told signatories in the letter.
Under the TPNW, all ratifying countries will be banned from developing, producing, testing, acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, and manufacturing nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosives. It also bans the transfer and use, or threat to use, of such devices.
The currently enforced NPT only prevents the use or spread of nuclear weapons outside the original five nuclear powers. Non-nuclear signatories agreed to halt their pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for a commitment by the five countries to eventually disarm.
The executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Beatrice Fihn, said that the U.S. is likely in a state of "straightforward panic" given the reality that it might be forced to give up its nuclear arsenal under international law. Fihn added that the letter's reasoning for withdrawing support for the treaty was a "straightforward lie."
"They have no actual argument to back that up... There's no way you can undermine the Nonproliferation Treaty by banning nuclear weapons. It's the end goal of the Nonproliferation Treaty," Fihn said.
The U.N. is currently aiming to have the TPNW ratified by Friday this week, in time for the United Nations Day. The particular date also marks the 75thanniversary of the organization since it was founded.