The United States led a group of dozens of United Nations members in a boycott of Monday’s talks about a treaty that would ban the development and use of nuclear weapons anywhere on the globe.
“There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons,” Ambassador Nikki Haley of the United States told reporters outside the General Assembly as the UN talks were set to begin. “But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”
Ambassador Haley was joined by envoys from a number of other nations that share the U.S.’s stance on the proposed treaty, including Albania, Britain, France and South Korea. The other ambassadors chose not to take questions at the time.
The proposed treaty would require all nuclear-capable nations to do away with their arsenals and cease the development of new technologies intended for use as weapons or nuclear weapon delivery platforms. Over one hundred and twenty nations have voiced their support for the treaty, with fervent support coming from Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden.
The United Nations’ talks regarding the treaty come amid growing tensions around the world, with North Korea rapidly developing global strike-capable nuclear platforms and conducting tests despite a concerted international effort to curb their nuclear program and nations like China and Russia unveiling new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles designed specifically to circumvent existing missile defense systems utilized by nations like the United States. President Trump has recently called upon the U.S. to improve its own nuclear infrastructure, which utilizes a good deal of outdated technology and requires, extensive, and expensive, updates.
Proponents of the treaty have acknowledged how difficult it could be to come to such an agreement, but cite previous global bans on things like chemical and biological weapons as precedent for such a treaty. They believe that if enough nations ratify a ban on nuclear weapons, it will place a larger amount of social and political pressure on nuclear powers to do away with their arsenals and rely only on traditional means of warfare.
The United States and a number of other nations, including Russia and Japan – the only nation ever to suffer an atomic attack from a rival state – see things differently however, instead relying on an argument similar to that employed by supporters of the 2nd Amendment within the United States. They suggest that by banning nuclear weapons from law-abiding nations, many could find themselves without adequate means to protect themselves or deter a potential nuclear strike by nations that are unconcerned with their international political standing: Nations like North Korea.
Ambassador Haley sent that point home by questioning whether or not the nations favoring the new treaty have a full understanding of the nature of global threats and strategic deterrence; “You have to ask yourself, are they looking out for their people?”
The talks, which commenced on Monday, are expected to go on despite a significant number of empty seats, as dozens of nations have joined with the United States in choosing to boycott the endeavor.
“You are going to see almost 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today,” Haley said on Monday.
“In this day and time we can’t honestly that say we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them and those of us that are good trying to keep peace and safety, not to have them.”
Image courtesy of Getty Images