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by Dr. Alan Lockwood

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PSR Responds to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley's Boycott of the UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Negotiations

March 27, 2017



Elana Simon, Communications Manager
(202) 587-5323

Martin Fleck, Security Program Director
(202) 587-5242

"No nation has the 'right hands' when it comes to nuclear weapons." 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, March 27, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announced the U.S. government refused to join over 100 countries gathering at the United Nations in New York to begin negotiations of the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty. Despite Ambassador Haley's contention that "we all believe in the Non-Proliferation Treaty," the U.S. government flouts its disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Treaty. The U.S. government plans to invest over $1 trillion to upgrade and significantly expand the capability of its nuclear arsenal.

Ambassador Haley's boycott is highly unlikely to impede the negotiations. Later this year, the negotiations are expected to achieve a legally binding instrument to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons. Further, the Treaty will inaugurate a universal norm stigmatizing nuclear weapons, making Ambassador Haley's commentary on "bad actors" obsolete.

PSR (Physicians for Social Responsibility) has actively supported the Humanitarian Impact Initiative, which has prompted an international debate on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. In December 2013, PSR and its international affiliate, IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War), released a report that documents the medical catastrophe of modern nuclear warfare. An understanding of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons framed a series of three intergovernmental forums that have culminated in the 2017 Ban Treaty negotiations.

The Ban Treaty renews pressure on the U.S. to comply with its existing disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty at a moment when the U.S. government plans to spend $1 trillion to prolong the existence of its nuclear arsenal into the 2080s. A Treaty that deems the continued possession of nuclear weapons illegal and morally reprehensible will undermine the justifications for perpetuating the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

Jeff Carter, PSR Executive Director, commented:

"Nuclear weapons in anyone's hands pose a grave risk to human health. Rather than boycott these important negotiations, the United States should lend its considerable influence to support this effort. The Ban Treaty will properly stigmatize nuclear weapons on their way to complete elimination."

Ira Helfand, MD, PSR Security Committee co-chair & IPPNW co-president, commented:

"Those who have supported the continued reliance on nuclear weapons must now consider that no nation has the 'right hands' when it comes to nuclear weapons. We have to accept once and for all that these weapons can never be used and must be eliminated from the world's arsenals. The negotiations that begin this month at the United Nations for a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons are a key next step toward this goal and deserve our full support."

Robert Dodge, MD, PSR Board Member, commented:

"This treaty will ban nuclear weapons just as every other weapon of mass destruction, from chemical to biological weapons and landmines have been banned. Finally, the deadliest of these immoral weapons will be outlawed. From that point forth only pariah nations acting outside the realm of international law will continue to maintain nuclear arsenals."

Martin Fleck, PSR Security Program Director, commented:

"The nuclear-armed countries got off on the wrong path long ago. Despite every excuse from the U.S. Ambassador, we've got to get back on the right path. The Ban Treaty will point us in the right direction."

Physicians for Social Responsibility, a member organization of over 30,000 seeks to address the gravest threats to human health and survival. The group's motto is "Prevention is the only cure." PSR's international federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize.


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