An international treaty banning nuclear weapons has been ratified by 50 states, the UN said, allowing the historic, albeit essentially symbolic, text to take effect 90 days later.
Until the nuclear powers join the treaty, activists who are pushing for it to enter into force hope it will be more than symbolic and have a gradual deterrent effect.
Honduras became the 50th country to ratify.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “the culmination of a global movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons,”
“This is a significant commitment to the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, which remains the highest priority of UN disarmament.”
NGOs also welcomed the news, including the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), a coalition that won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its key role in implementing the treaty.
“Honduras has just ratified the Treaty as the 50th country, prompting its entry into force and history,” Icahn said.
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said in a statement: “Today is a victory for humanity and a promise of a safer future.”
The 75th anniversary of the August nuclear attacks on Nagasaki and Hiroshima has sparked a wave of countries that have ratified the treaty.
These include Nigeria, Malaysia, Ireland, Malta and Tuvalu. Thailand, Mexico, South Africa, Bangladesh, New Zealand, Vietnam and the Vatican are among the countries that have already ratified it.
The agreement will enter into force on January 22, 2021, the UN said.
The nuclear-weapon states, including the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, have not signed the treaty.
The United States wrote to the signatories, saying the Trump administration believed they had made a “strategic mistake” and called on them to cancel their ratification.
The letter, received from the Associated Press, said the five original nuclear powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France – and NATO’s allies in America “are united in our opposition to the potential consequences” of the treaty.
But campaign participants hope the treaty will have the same impact as previous international treaties on anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, which will stigmatize their storage and use and thus change behavior even in countries that have not registered. .
Ican said in a statement that he expected “companies to stop producing nuclear weapons and financial institutions to stop investing in nuclear weapons companies.”
Coalition chief executive Beatrice Finn called it a “new chapter on nuclear disarmament.”
“Decades of activism have achieved what many have said is impossible: nuclear weapons are banned.”
Saying that his country had played a “crucial role” along with others, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter that this was “an important step towards our goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”
Nuclear-armed states say their arsenals are a deterrent and say they remain committed to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Separately, Russia and the United States are trying to break a deadlock in long-term talks aimed at extending their nuclear weapons deal.
The two sides have struggled to find common ground on the fate of the new START treaty, which limits the two countries to 1,550 deployed warheads, but is due to expire next February.
While the United States wants to revise the deal to include China and cover new weapons, Russia is ready to extend the agreement for five years without any new conditions – and each country has repeatedly rejected the other’s proposals.
With Agence France-Presse and Associated Press