Demonstrating unprecedented global consensus, over 120 countries approved a treaty at the United Nations to ban nuclear weapons. However the US, France, and the UK issued a joint statement opposing the measure, saying it threatens international security.
All of the world's nuclear powers, including the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK with a fledgling nuclear program, refused to participate in the negotiations.
The Netherlands participated in negotiations, and was the only country to vote against it.
"Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to… Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices," the treaty stated.
The United States, the United Kingdom, and France however, have released a joint statement solidifying their position as the treaty's most ardent opponents saying that the treaty “disregards” international security, and emphasized commitment to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The 1968 treaty allowed for the original five nuclear power: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and China to continue having the weapons, but prohibited other countries from developing them.
Since the beginning of negotiations in March, the United States has led opposition to the treaty. The United States and Russia have the world's largest nuclear reserves, and the United States remains to date the only country to have used nuclear weapons in war. Currently, the United States has about 6,800 nuclear warheads, and Russia about 7,000.
“To ban nuclear weapons now would make us and our allies more vulnerable, and would strengthen bad actors like North Korea and Iran who would not abide by it,” Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., told reporters at the outset of negotiations for the treaty in March.
Iran was among the numerous countries that backed the treaty.
Costa Rica's ambassador, who served as President of the conference that negotiated the treaty, described the moment as "emotional."
“We feel emotional because we are responding to the hopes and dreams of the present and future generations,” said Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez.
Cuba has been a major proponent of the treaty, having previously called on all UN member states to participate in order to eliminate what they called a threat to human survival.
“Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction that have not yet been banned through a legally binding instrument,” the Cuban Ambassador, Anayansi Rodriguez said during negotiations. She emphasized that the prohibition mechanism needed to be clear, and include a mandate for countries that posses nuclear arms to destroy them within a definite period of time.
Japan, the only country to have had nuclear weapons used against them in war, when the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also notably abstained from the vote.