The UN Nuclear Ban Treaty: Proposal for the Complete Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Haley Dodge, Guest Contributor

29 July 2017


The recent Nuclear Ban Treaty adopted by 122 nations on July 7, 2017 heads towards ratification on September 20, 2017.  The treaty calls for the prohibition of state parties from developing, producing, manufacturing,  acquiring, possessing, stock piling, stationing, installing, deploying, transferring, using, and threatening to use nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices.[1]  If a nuclear disaster occurs for any reason, the states’ obligation is to provide non-discriminatory victim assistance and support for environmental remediation.[2]  Any time after its implementation, countries are able to propose new amendments to or withdraw from the treaty.  Withdrawal can occur if unforeseen events related to the treaty prove to jeopardize the supreme interests of a country except when said country is currently involved in armed conflict.[3]  If at least 50 states ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, it will be the first legally binding document for the complete ban of nuclear weapons.[4]



Reasons Why the U.S. Vetoed the Nuclear Ban Treaty:


  • Eliminates Nuclear Deterrence Towards North Korea: North Korea continues to defy international sanctions for the continuation of their ballistic missile testing program.[5]  On July 28, 2017, the United States, Japan, and South Korea report North Korea’s ICBMs having the capability of reaching major U.S. cities: Los Angeles, Denver, and Chicago.[6]  The proliferation of North Korea’s missile systems force nuclear allied nations – the United States, Britain, and France – to rely on nuclear deterrence as an effective defensive strategy against the possibility of an attack.


  • Weakens the NATO Treaty: The prohibitions in the Nuclear Ban Treaty could invalidate previous U.S. statements to defend its allies through nuclear means.[7]  The elements of the treaty would prevent the United States from using nuclear-capable delivery systems to conduct assurance missions for U.S. allies.[8]  These nuclear restrictions would conflict with the foundation of the NATO Treaty under Article 5 for collective defense should an attack occur.[9]


  • Difficult to Enforce All Prohibitions: The United States questions whether nations like North Korea would follow the demands of the treaty if implemented.[10]  Despite international pressure, North Korea continues to ignore sanctions and orders in regards to their nuclear developments.[11]  In the current security climate, the complete abolition of nuclear activities is a challenge due to the treaty’s various restrictions and high tensions between North Korea and the U.S.


  • Desire to Strengthen the Current Non-Proliferation Treaty: United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, re-enforced the U.S. commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) implemented in 1970.[12]  The United States favors nonproliferation progress on an incremental basis and deems the Nuclear Ban Treaty to be “unbalanced” and “unrealistic” in its goals.[13]  Since the height of the Cold War in 1986, the number of U.S. nuclear warheads continues to decrease from 23,317 warheads to 4,760 warheads in 2014 under the current NPT.[14]


About the Analyst

Haley Dodge is a third year undergraduate student, Intelligence Studies and Religious Studies double major with a Political Science minor at Mercyhurst University.  Research interests include religious influence in national security affairs, human trafficking, and anti-money laundering.


















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