by Art Laffin, Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace
in NCR

Seventy-five years after the U.S. committed the unspeakable crime of using nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, a historic milestone has finally been achieved: Nuclear weapons have been declared illegal under a new United Nations treaty. On Oct. 24, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) reached the 50-nation ratification threshold needed for entry into force. In 90 days, on Jan. 22, 2021, the treaty will go into effect.

Eighty-four countries have signed the TPNW, and legislatures of 50 countries have now ratified it. Advocates are confident that the remaining signatories will continue to add their ratifications to the agreement. However, the TPNW is not binding on those nations that refuse to sign it. The U.S. and the world’s eight other nuclear-armed countries — Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — boycotted the negotiations that created the TPNW and have shown no inclination to accept it.

Three years ago, 122 nations adopted this landmark treaty. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize recipient who helped spearhead the TPNW…

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