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PSR applauds historic UN decision to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban treaty

October 28, 2016



Ira Helfand, MD, IPPNW Co-president & PSR Board 413 320-7829
Robert Dodge, MD,
PSR Board and PSR-Los Angeles President 805 338-9236
Martin Fleck
, PSR Security Program Director 202 587-5242

Washington, DC - Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) applauded Thursday's historic vote in the United Nations First Committee to convene negotiations in 2017 for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. 

In a decisive victory for nuclear disarmament advocates -- including PSR -- an overwhelming majority of UN member nations approved Resolution L.41 "Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations" on October 27. The vote was 123 for, 38 against, with 16 abstentions. Among the nuclear-armed nations, the USA, Russia, UK, France, and Israel voted no.

"Nuclear weapons do not contribute to our security. Rather, they are the greatest threat to our security and we need to abolish them before our luck runs out and they are used again." -- said Ira Helfand, MD, PSR Security Committee co-chair and Co-president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

"The non-nuclear nations have decided to take their survival and that of the planet into their own hands, refusing to be held hostage by the nuclear-armed nations. They will no longer be bullied into sitting back and waiting for the nuclear-armed nations to make good on empty promises." -- said Robert Dodge, MD, PSR Security Committee co-chair and PSR-Los Angeles President.

Momentum has been building toward this vote for several years in a process that has changed the international debate over nuclear weapons – shifting attention from the military planning of nuclear weapons states to a focus on the profound humanitarian impact use of these weapons would have. A single modern weapon detonated over a city would kill hundreds of thousands with blast, fire and radioactive fallout. And even as few as 100 weapons would cause significant climate cooling and severely threaten agriculture worldwide.

L.41 mandates that the UN will "convene a conference in 2017 to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading toward their total elimination" The conference will convene on March 27, 2017. L.41 encourages all UN member states to participate in the negotiation process. The treaty is intended to "fill the legal gap" – wherein under current international law, nuclear weapons are not expressly prohibited, but chemical and biological weapons are.

The ban treaty will stigmatize nuclear weapons and those who possess them. It is designed to put pressure on the nuclear-armed states to commence further negotiations for a detailed agreement setting forth a timeline for actually eliminating the weapons and detailed verification and enforcement mechanisms.

PSR, a member organization of over 30,000, seeks to address the gravest threats to human health and survival. PSR's international affiliate, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. 

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