nuclear articlenuclear articleHistory was made at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on July 7, 2017, when the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weaponswas adopted by a vote of 122 Member States to 1 (The Netherlands, with 1 abstention, Singapore).

This Treaty prohibits development, testing, production, manufacture, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The World Federation of Public Health Associations welcomes this historic Treaty, and urges all states to sign, ratify, and implement it as a key step to safeguard global health.

The long process that it took to get to this point shows the power of joining together and speaking with one voice. While this Treaty can be considered a great achievement, we must continue the fight against nuclear weapons because there is still a lot of work to be done. The nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states that are not a part of this Treaty have been provided with practical and flexible ways to comply with these prohibitions once they decide to join. If they persist in defying the norms established by the Treaty, they will be declared as outlaw states.

John Loretz, the program director of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) has stated that, “The nine nuclear-armed states, which refused to participate in these negotiations, are now faced with a stark choice. They can comply with the norms that have been clearly and unambiguously established by the Treaty and eliminate their nuclear weapons, as they should have done decades ago, or they will be stigmatized as outlaw states.” These nine nuclear-armed states are: Russia, the United States, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea. While these nine countries are recognized as owning nuclear weapons, it doesn’t mean that they are the only countries that possess nuclear weapons. Other countries, such as Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and the Netherlands, deploy and store American nuclear weapons as part of NATO agreements. Other non-nuclear countries, such as South Korea, Canada, and Greece, previously have had similar agreements with the United States. These countries have also been recognized by Loretz, who said, “The states that base their security on the nuclear weapons possessed by other states can either withdraw from extended nuclear deterrence arrangements and cease all military planning and preparation for the use of nuclear weapons, or face similar global condemnation.”

Overall, this Treaty is great for the shared interests of humanity, and it provides a powerful legal, moral, and political tool moving forward. It has been a long and difficult process leading up to this point, and we must continue to work together and speak with one voice to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely in the world.

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