Nuclear powers rebuked as 122 nations adopt U.N. ban

While Friday’s meeting between the leaders of the two biggest nuclear powers drew world attention, representatives from 122 other countries did something truly historic that barely registered a blip: They negotiated the first-ever treaty outlawing atomic bombs.


The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, passed at the United Nations by a vote of 122 to 1, was the culmination of a decadelong effort by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons — and a resounding rebuke to the world’s nuclear weapons states, which were glaringly absent and immediately dismissed the effort.


The vote, which opens the treaty for signature beginning Sept. 20, drew a lengthy standing ovation at U.N. headquarters in New York — even if the agreement is not expected to have any measurable effect on the atomic arsenals in the hands of the few.


“These states are sending a message. They are expressing their profound frustration that the U.S., Russia, China and other nuclear-armed states have not fulfilled previous political and legal commitments,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a Washington-based advocacy group, who attended the session.


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