The world's nations voted last week on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. After months of negotiations, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was formally adopted by 122 of the 192 nations of the United Nations. But the U.S. and the eight other nuclear-armed nations boycotted the talks — at a time when the world is at accelerating risk of nuclear confrontation.
Some are calling the U.S. boycott a knee-jerk reaction and the logic of nuclear deterrence "tragically flawed."
We couldn't agree more.
"Today, the path forward to total abolition of these weapons is open — even as, ironically, the danger of nuclear war is greater than it has been since the worst days of the Cold War," wrote Ira Helfand, MD, of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), along with Matt Bevins, MD, of the Boston chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) in a CNN editorial. Dr. Helfand is a leader in the re-energized movement to ban nuclear weapons. IPPNW won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize along with national PSR for its work on nuclear non-proliferation.
The U.S. is set to spend more than $1 trillion upgrading its nuclear arsenal. Yet even one use of nuclear weapons could cause mass starvation, climate disruption and death on an unprecedented scale.
PSR members, including Chesapeake PSR President Gwen DuBois, MD, MPH, pounded the pavement visiting delegations before the historic vote and were influential in getting nations credentialed in time to vote in favor of the treaty. “We all know that nuclear weapons are immoral," said Dr. DuBois. "But this is a step toward making them illegal. This establishes the human rights for the victims of nuclear weapons use in any form, including testing.”
The treaty must be ratified by each nation in a process that could take up to two years, starting Sept. 20, 2017, when the U.N. General Assembly session begins. The treaty would enter into legal force 90 days after being ratified by 50 countries.
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