As many as 150 nations are expected to sign a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons on September 20, 2017. The special signing ceremony will involve presidents and prime ministers from around the world and will take place at the United Nations in New York.

The “Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” was adopted by 122 U.N. member nations on July 7, 2017. Several elderly Japanese survivors of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 were present to witness what they have waited their entire lives to see.

The treaty criminalizes, for the first time under international law, any development, production, testing, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, deployment, or use of nuclear weapons, and even prohibits threatening to use them. It also forbids assisting, financing, encouraging, or inducing others to carry out these illegal acts.

None of the nine nuclear-armed nations (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea) are expected to sign the treaty in the near future. But as governments change and public pressure mounts, this could soon change.

“This treaty represents a growing global determination to stigmatize nuclear weapons as the indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction that they are,” says Dr. Timmon Milne Wallis, author of Disarming the Nuclear Argument: The Truth About Nuclear Weapons (Luath Press, 2017), who was present at the UN negotiations on behalf of Quakers in Britain.

The only way to guarantee that North Korea or any other country will not use nuclear weapons,” says Wallis, “is for the world to get rid of all nuclear weapons. That is what this treaty aims to achieve.”

The first thing the United Nations tried to accomplish, when it was founded in 1945, was a total ban on nuclear weapons worldwide. Finally, that dream is coming true.

Contact for further information and interviews:

Vicki Elson and Timmon Wallis, 59 Gleason Road, Northampton MA 01060

vickielson@gmail.com; phone: 413 329 3778




Additional background information

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will not by itself eliminate any nuclear weapons. It does, however, make it crystal clear for the first time since they were invented that these weapons are unacceptable to the vast majority of the world’s people and governments.


“We do not have these weapons because they make us safe, or because they protect us or deter enemies from attacking us,” says Wallis. “They exist because a very small number of people are making a very large amount of money out of it. And that is not a good enough reason to risk the very survival of the human race.”

The smallest nuclear weapon in the US arsenal today is more than six times as destructive as the one which destroyed the city of Hiroshima. Just one of these weapons going off – even by accident – would cause a humanitarian catastrophe of unparalleled proportions. A full-scale nuclear war would almost certainly spell the end of human civilization as we know it.

Wallis says he is often asked, “Even if every country signs the treaty, how can we verify that nobody’s cheating?”

In response, Wallis says, “It’s impossible to hide the testing of nuclear weapons or their delivery systems. Sophisticated infrared and seismic equipment now monitors the entire globe, even underground and under the sea. The world would find out.”

Vicki Elson, 58, was also present at the U.N. when the treaty was adopted. She describes the scene: “The ambassadors broke all the rules against clapping, and cheering, and hugging. It was an ecstatic experience, especially for the Hibakusha, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors. So much hope in the room that now the long nightmare will end. We should all be talking about our future in creative, humane new ways. We need everyone to join the international conversation and spread the word about this brand new opportunity to rid the world of nuclear weapons. A lot of people are now looking forward to the day when ALL nations sign, ratify, and enforce this treaty.”

Despite the historic significance of this treaty and the attention it is receiving in other parts of the world, press coverage has been scant in the United States and the other nuclear-armed nations. No American lawmakers have yet spoken out in favor of it.

Text of the treaty: https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/2017/07/20170707%2003-42%20PM/Ch_XXVI_9.pdf

UN press release: https://www.un.org/disarmament/ptnw/

International campaign info (ICAN): http://www.icanw.org


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