Are Nuclear Weapons Illegal? Yes, but It Doesn't Matter


Speaking at a press conference in Geneva on Friday, ICAN's Secretary General Beatrice Fihn said President Trump's movements over North Korea and Iran showed the clear danger posed by nuclear arms.

United Nations leaders enthusiastically welcomed the Nobel Peace Prize awarded Friday to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a recognition that appears particularly poignant at a time of rising nuclear threats from North Korea.

JUDY WOODRUFF: For more on the work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, I'm joined by John Burroughs. And the U.S. president alarmed delegates at the UN General Assembly last month by warning he might be forced to "totally destroy" North Korea because of its atomic weapons programme.

"An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that nuclear weapons will cause". Fihn said she didn't believe it until she heard the name of the group proclaimed on television.

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Ican, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations and faith groups, has been instrumental in getting the majority of the world's nations to sign up to a UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. "The job isn't done until nuclear weapons are gone", ICAN chief Beatrice Fihn told AFP this week.

Separately, Trump plans to "decertify" Iran's compliance with an global agreement that limits its nuclear program, a step that European allies worry could lead to nuclear proliferation. "Norwegian Nobel Committee has its own ways, but the nuclear agreement with Iran achieved something real and would have deserved a prize", tweeted Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister who has held top posts as an worldwide diplomat.

Australia has defended its stance, pointing to its work putting into force comprehensive global test ban treaties.

With 122 countries signed up to the pact, United Nations spokeswoman Alessandra Velluci said she hoped the award would provide an impetus for more nations to follow. The State Department spokesman added that Washington remains committed to its obligations under the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. His grandfather, Jacob Beser, was the only man in the world to fly on both planes that dropped nuclear bombs on Japan.

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The world's two biggest nuclear powers, the United States and Russian Federation, are reducing their stockpiles of atomic weapons under the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

"ICAN has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigour", the Committee added.

It officially launched in Vienna, Austria, in April 2007 during the Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory committee meeting.

With the nuclear threat at its most acute in decades, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which on Friday won the Nobel Peace Prize, is urgently pressing to consign the bomb to history.

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The choice amounted to a blunt rejoinder to the world's nine nuclear-armed powers and their allies, which boycotted the negotiations. "Threatening to use nuclear weapons is illegal". The disconnect between public opinion and policies in place is reflected in other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations without their own nuclear weapons, as well. "They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement", he said.