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Historic movement begins towards ban on nuclear weapons

Pressenza republishes this press release from Article36 website.

127 states have taken part in the first-ever conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, and will meet again in Mexico to take the next step in this initiative to address the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. This marks a pivotal move towards establishing a treaty than bans nuclear weapons.

“States, international organisations and civil society are embarking on a road that can only lead to a treaty to ban nuclear weapons,” said Thomas Nash, Director of Article 36. “States have shown that they are no longer willing to be held hostage by a handful of states that wield these most unacceptable and illegitimate weapons” he added.

The UK has boycotted the meeting along with the four other permanent members of the Security Council saying that the conference would “divert discussion and focus” away from other forums, but this initiative strengthens and reinforces other mechanisms including Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

“The UK’s absence will not distract the majority of the world’s nations from taking the next step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons,” said Richard Moyes, Managing Partner at Article 36. “The train is pulling out of the station but the UK is stuck on the platform.”

The ICRC and other international humanitarian organisations have said that no effective relief would be possible in the case of a nuclear weapon detonation.

A case study by Article 36 on the impacts of the detonation of a single 100kT warhead on the city of Manchester says that 212,00 would be killed and 81,000 injured from blast and thermal effects, devastating housing and commercial buildings, destroying vital infrastructure, causing massive population displacement and leaving the local emergency service capacity seriously degraded. The UK government has said that the details on how a response to a nuclear weapon detonation would be organised are confidential.

Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet subject to a prohibition, unlike chemical and biological weapons. A ban treaty would put nuclear weapons on the same footing as the other weapons of mass destruction. A report by Article 36 “Banning Nuclear Weapons” argues that the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear weapon attack make it vital to avoid their use, and this in turn makes the elimination of nuclear weapons an imperative.

ENDS

Contact: Thomas Nash, Director, Article 36, mobile +44 (0) 7711 926 730 thomas@article36.org

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