India, US, UK among several countries decide not to attend UN talks on nuclear weapons ban treaty
US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks while French Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alexis Lamek and British Ambassador to the United Nations Matthew Rycroft listen outside the General Assembly at the United Nations in New York. Photograph: (Reuters)
More than 100 countries launched the first UN talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons even as the Trump administration is leading an international boycott of the process it deems unrealistic.
India will not be participating in the first UN conference in more than 20 years on global nuclear weapons ban.
The United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries that will not join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty starting at the United Nations.
Britain, France, Israel, Russia and the US voted no, while China, India and Pakistan abstained from voting on the resolution in October. In its Explanation of Vote (EoV) given for its abstention on the resolution in October, India had said that it was "not convinced" that the proposed conference could address the longstanding expectation of the international community for a comprehensive instrument on nuclear disarmament.
India also maintained that the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament (CD) is the single multilateral disarmament negotiation forum.
Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said: "The UK is not attending the negotiations on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament."
Deputy French UN, Ambassador Alexis Lamek said "the security conditions were not right" for a nuclear weapons ban treaty.
"In the current perilous context, considering in particular the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, our countries continue to rely on nuclear deterrence for security and stability," Lamek said.
The US' envoy to the UN Nikki Haley said the Assembly "suddenly" wants to have a hearing to ban nuclear weapons and while as a mother and daughter, she wants a world with no nuclear weapons, one also has to be "realistic".
She said given the current times "bad actors" cannot be allowed to keep their nuclear weapons while other nations try to maintain peace and safety.
"We would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons but in this day and time we cannot honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them (nuclear weapons) and those of us who are good trying to keep the peace and safety not to have them," Haley told reporters.
The push for a ban was announced in October by 123 UN members who say the threat of atomic disaster is growing thanks to tensions fanned by North Korea's nuclear weapons program and an unpredictable new administration in Washington.
Leaders of the effort include Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Sweden, supported by hundreds of non-profit organizations.
In 2009, then-president Barack Obama announced a drive to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them.
But his administration strongly encouraged NATO allies to vote against this year's UN negotiations, saying a ban would obstruct cooperation to respond to nuclear threats from adversaries.
India, United States, Britain and France are among almost 40 countries that will not join talks on a nuclear weapons ban treaty starting at the United Nations (WION)
(WION with agency inputs)