Australian news, and some related international items

How the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Impacts the United States

How the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Impacts the United States, and Why the United States Must Embrace its Entry into Force, Columbia SIPA Journal of International Affairs, ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE AND SETH SHELDEN,  JAN 15, 2021   The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force on January 22, 2021, two days following the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th president of the United States. Despite the TPNW’s widespread support throughout the world, the United States has attempted to thwart the treaty’s progress at every step, boycotting the negotiations from the start and urging other countries to withdraw as the treaty neared its entry into force. These efforts have proven unsuccessful. This article explores the implications of the entry into force of the TPNW, with special attention to the United States and how the new Biden administration can play a more constructive role in the international treaty regime.

On January 20, Joseph Biden will become the next U.S. President. Two days later, on January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will become binding international law. The Biden administration should seize the opportunity to sign this landmark treaty and work toward its ratification, while productively engaging with the new legal regime created by the treaty.

With the TPNW, nuclear weapons will be subject to a global ban treaty for the first time, at last aligning nuclear weapons with other weapons of mass destruction, all already the subject of treaty-based prohibitions. The TPNW provides a framework to verifiably eliminate nuclear weapons and requires its States Parties, i.e., states that have ratified or acceded to the treaty, to assist victims and remediate environments affected by nuclear weapons use and testing. The treaty was negotiated in recognition of the increasing likelihood of use of nuclear weapons, whether intentionally or accidentally, and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any such use.

The United States has aggressively attempted to thwart the TPNW despite support for the treaty from more than two-thirds of the world’s states. These efforts have been unsuccessful. If President-elect Biden truly intends “to prove to the world that the United States is prepared to lead again—not just with the example of our power but also with the power of our example,” his administration must reverse the U.S. position on the TPNW.

Past United States Approach to TPNW

Before treaty negotiations had begun, in a 2016 nonpaper the United States urged NATO members to vote against proceeding with the initiative, claiming that such a treaty would “undermine…long-standing strategic stability.” Despite U.S. urging, the resolution to proceed with negotiations was adopted in December 2016 with clear global support. After Donald Trump assumed the presidency, the United States intensified its opposition, publicly dismissing and ridiculing the TPNW while privately pressuring countries not to support it. On the first day of treaty negotiations, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, hosted a press conference outside the room where negotiations were to take place, criticizing the pursuit of a prohibition treaty and questioning if nations participating were “looking out for their people.”

In October 2020, as the treaty approached the threshold of 50 ratifications for its entry into force, the United States sent a letter to countries that had joined the TPNW, restating its “opposition to the potential repercussions” of the treaty and encouraging states to withdraw their instruments of ratification. Once the treaty reached 50 States Parties, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Ford retweeted his remarks from 2018 in which he had called the treaty “harmful to international peace and security.” China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States have consistently issued joint statements disparaging the treaty at various international fora, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, the United Nations General Assembly, and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) meetings.

U.S. opposition to the TPNW is predicated on the falsehood that nuclear weapons provide security, as well as mischaracterizations about the treaty itself. Despite legal obligations and decades of commitments to bring about a world without nuclear weapons, in truth the United States relies steadfastly upon deterrence doctrines that are incompatible with these obligations and commitments, and it views any threat to the legitimacy of nuclear weapons as a threat to its national security. In clutching to deterrence doctrines, despite recognition—even from conservatives and libertarians—that nuclear weapons offer no military or practical value, U.S. policymakers undoubtedly are influenced also by the trillion dollar industry supporting its nuclear weapon arsenal. They thus have advanced spurious claims about the TPNW’s failings, arguing that the treaty will undermine the NPT, weaken IAEA safeguards, and only impact democracies, all of which are untrue.

These false assertions have been debunked in numerous more thorough examinations, so it suffices to say that the majority of countries do not share U.S. and like-minded states’ concerns about the TPNW

…………Nuclear-armed states aggressively denouncing an initiative with global support impairs unity in other international fora needed to advance other nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and risk reduction measures.

Implications of Entry Into Force

U.S. denouncements of the TPNW also ignore the significant impact of this treaty internationally, and on the United States itself. When the TPNW enters into force, States Parties will immediately need to adhere to the treaty’s Article 1 prohibitions, prohibiting them from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using, or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing nuclear weapons to be stationed in their territories. It also prohibits States Parties from assisting, encouraging, or inducing anyone to engage in these activities.

Under Articles 6 and 7 of the TPNW, States Parties also are obligated to assist victims of and remediate environments contaminated by nuclear weapon use and testing. These “positive obligations” break new ground in international nuclear weapons law. States with affected victims and contaminated lands under their jurisdiction have the primary responsibility for providing assistance, in a nod to state sovereignty and practical facilitation. However, Article 7 requires all States Parties to cooperate in implementing the treaty and, particularly for those in a position to do so, to assist affected states. ………..more

January 17, 2021 - Posted by | General News

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