U.N. Committee Calls for Outlawing Nuclear Weapons

FILE - In this March 5, 2013, file photo, a view of the U.N. building with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, office inside, at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria. Iran has agreed to cooperate with the U.N. in answering longstanding allegations about possible past work to develop nuclear weapons at its Parchin plant, but only with the Iranians conducting the inspections themselves. A draft of the Parchin document, as seen by The Associated Press, essentially cedes the Parchin inspection to Iran, allowing it to collect its own environmental samples on the site and carry out other work usually done by IAEA experts. The IAEA will be able to review the Iranians’ work after the fact. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)
A view of the U.N. building with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, File)

United Nations member states voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve a resolution calling for negotiations on a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons, despite strong opposition from nuclear-armed nations and their allies.

The vote in the U.N. Disarmament and International Security Committee saw 123 nations voting in favor of the resolution, 38 opposing and 16 abstaining. The resolution was sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa.

The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure.

The resolution now goes to a full General Assembly vote sometime in December.

The resolution aims to set up a conference in March 2017 to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

Antinuclear groups hailed the vote as a landmark in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“Today’s vote demonstrates very clearly that a majority of the world’s nations consider the prohibition of nuclear weapons to be necessary, feasible and urgent. They view it as the most viable option for achieving real progress on disarmament,” said Beatriz Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Fihn said that while the vote is unlikely to convince nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear stockpiles in the short-term, it will help stigmatize the weapons in much the same way as has been done with land mines and cluster bombs.

The resolution follows three international conferences, beginning in 2013, to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons’ use, and discussions by a working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016.

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