Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Becomes International Law

Today most of the world is celebrating a new international treaty, now in force, that bans all nuclear weapons. So far, 52 nations have ratified the treaty, and 50 nations ratifying is what is needed to become law. The United States, in case you’re wondering, has not signed the treaty and currently possesses 5,800 nuclear weapons, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which, by the way, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. (Sorry, Trump. But, in hindsight, at least you didn’t manage to incite a nuclear war, despite coming close with North Korea.)

The United States is part of a “nuclear club” of nine nations that currently possess nuclear weapons and has no desire, it seems, to give them up. Most of their efforts in nuclear disarmament have to do with preventing other nations from getting what they already got: yes, it is hypocrisy, which the Nuclear Nine believe is safer (and more exclusively powerful) than scrapping their own nukes. A total of at least 13,400 nuclear weapons are said to exist, just one of which could do catastrophic damage to Earth and its people should it detonate, either intentionally or accidentally; 32 other nations are “nuclear-weapon endorsing” states, meaning they think it’s ok for their friends, at least, to own them.

Thanks to the TPNW now in force, the United States and the other eight nuclear nations are currently in violation of international law– international outlaws! Not a good look for a democracy. Some will say that only U.S. nukes are preventing Russia and China from putting an end to democracy, and perhaps an end to the people and places of democracy. I say that’s fear talking. Surely we have enough conventional deadly weapons to address our fears. And maybe democracies should have more faith and trust in our “inalienable rights” and in nonviolent means of defense. We need a foreign policy that is not foreign to all our humane and brave principles.

Photo by Christopher Farrugia on
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