World News: Banning Nuclear Weapons

Adeleine Trombley '18, Writer

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There are a total of 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, owned by 9 different countries. These warheads are placed around the world as part of the NATO Nuclear Sharing Agreement. They are the only weapon of mass destruction sanctioned by the United Nations, but that could change by the end of the year.

In October 2016, the UN voted to begin outlawing nuclear weapons. 123 countries are in favor of a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. 38 member nations are opposed to the agreement, while 16 nations abstained from voting. The negotiations will begin on March 27 in New York.

Even though the vote won by a landslide, the major nuclear states―the United States, Russia, North Korea, China, India, Pakistan, France, Britain and Israel―voted against the change. This includes the five permanent members of the UN ―United States, Britain, China, France and Russia―which all have the power to veto the bill. But the nations of Africa, South America, Caribbean, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific voted for the ban, making the negotiation favored by most of the world.

Banning nuclear weapons isn’t a new issue for the UN; it’s been on their agenda since 1945, when the organization was first established. Then in 1996, a treaty was passed that was supposed to ban all nuclear explosions, but it has not entered legal force because of the opposing nations investing in their nuclear forces. Many reporters believe nuclear weapons haven’t been banned because average people don’t understand the ever-present threat that nuclear weapons pose or the fact that as long as nuclear weapons aren’t banned, a nuclear war poses an imminent threat.

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