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Ukraine War Hangs Over UN Meeting on Nuclear Treaty’s Legacy

VOA UNITED NATIONS 31 July 22, — 

There was already plenty of trouble to talk about when a major U.N. meeting on the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was originally supposed to happen in 2020.

Now the pandemic-postponed conference finally starts Monday as Russia’s war in Ukraine has reanimated fears of nuclear confrontation and cranked up the urgency of trying to reinforce the 50-year-old treaty.

“It is a very, very difficult moment,” said Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Russia’s invasion, accompanied by ominous references to its nuclear arsenal, “is so significant for the treaty and really going to put a lot of pressure on this,” she said. “How governments react to the situation is going to shape future nuclear policy.”

The four-week meeting aims to generate a consensus on the next steps, but expectations are low for a substantial — if any — agreement……………………………

The events in Ukraine create a tricky choice for the upcoming conference, said Patricia Lewis, a former U.N. disarmament research official who is now at the international affairs think tank Chatham House in London.

“On the one hand, in order to support the treaty and what it stands for, governments will have to address Russia’s behavior and threats,” she said. “On the other hand, to do so risks dividing the treaty members.”

Another uncomfortable dynamic: The war has heightened some countries’ apprehensions about not having nuclear weapons, especially since Ukraine once housed but gave up a trove of Soviet nukes.

Ukraine is hardly the only hot topic.

North Korea appears to have been preparing recently for its first nuclear weapons test since 2017. And talks about reviving the deal meant to keep Iran from developing nukes are in limbo.

The U.S. and Russia have only one remaining treaty curtailing their nuclear weapons and have been developing new technologies. Britain last year raised a self-imposed cap on its stockpile. China says it’s modernizing — or, the U.S. claims, expanding — the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal……………..

In recent years, frustration with the Nonproliferation Treaty catalyzed another pact that outright prohibits nuclear weapons. Ratified by more than 60 countries, it took effect last year, though without any nuclear-armed nations on board.

At a recent meeting in Vienna, participating countries condemned “any and all nuclear threats” and inked a lengthy plan that includes considering an international trust fund for people harmed by nuclear weapons.

Fihn, whose Geneva-based group campaigned for the nuclear ban treaty, hopes the vigor in Vienna serves as inspiration — or notice — for countries to make progress at the U.N. conference.

“If you don’t do it here,” she said, “we’re moving on without you elsewhere.” https://www.voanews.com/a/ukraine-war-hangs-over-un-meeting-on-nuclear-treaty-legacy/6681249.html

July 31, 2022 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war

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