World powers that possess nuclear weapons refrain from attending a ceremony at the United Nations to sign a long-anticipated treaty on banning nukes, merely arguing that the pact will not work.
None of the nuclear-armed states including the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, India and Pakistan sent representatives to the ceremony for signing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a pact that was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations in July.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres opened the event in New York while hailing the agreement as a milestone and the first multilateral pact on disarmament in more than two decades.
Brazilian President Michel Temer was the first head of state to put his signature on the document, which comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program.
North Korea tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb earlier this month following the test-fire of two intercontinental ballistic missiles, weapons that experts say could target the mainland United States and could be used to carry a nuclear warhead.
The United States, Britain and France have dismissed the UN treaty as unrealistic, arguing that North Korea’s intensified nuclear activity has shown that they still need nuclear arms to maintain deterrence.
Supporters of the pact, however, say the time has come for the international community to push harder toward eliminating atomic weapons as a 50-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty has effectively failed to contain the thirst of powers for expanding their nuclear arsenal.
“We call upon them to join this date with history,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis at the ceremony, held on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meeting of world leaders.