US and other nuclear-armed states boycott UN meeting to discuss banning nukes

Negotiations for a treaty to rid the world of nuclear weapons began in the United Nations on Monday.

There was one problem, however. The talks are being boycotted by the United States, Britain, France, and nearly 40 other countries.

Most member states of the United Nations have said they wish for a world without nuclear weapons. But Monday’s boycott reveals a deep divide over how to get there.

Supporters of the treaty, led by Austria, Brazil, and Ireland, say the weapons should be outlawed, as the risk of a nuclear detonation is higher than at any time since the Cold War. But US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley and other opponents argue disarmament should be gradual to prevent the scales from tipping in the favor of “bad actors” like North Korea.

“As a mom, as a daughter, there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic,” Ms. Haley said in a gathering outside the General Assembly hall to show opposition to the talks starting inside. “Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”

In December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to “negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination” and encouraged all member states to participate.

113 countries were in favor of the resolution, with 35 against it, and 13 abstentions

But representatives of the US, Britain, France, and about 20 other nations stood outside the General Assembly on Monday to boycott the talks. Russia and China were not present, but are also not taking part in the talks.

Matthew Rycroft, the British permanent representative to the UN, said his country is not attending “because we do not believe that those negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament.”

The French deputy permanent representative to the UN, Alexis Lamek, said the security conditions were not right for…

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