The entry into force of the treaty banning nuclear weapons, a historic or symbolic step?

► Is this treaty banning nuclear weapons a turning point?

The international treaty banning nuclear weapons will enter into force in 90 days following ratification by a 50e country (Honduras) of this text, announced the UN Saturday, October 24. ” This is historic, because nuclear weapons can no longer be seen as something positive ”, reacts Jean-Marie Collin, spokesperson for the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Nobel Peace Prize 2017. « The ratification of the treaty by 50 states clearly shows that a majority of countries want to move towards nuclear disarmament. “

It took three years for this treaty, already approved by the United Nations General Assembly in July 2017, to enter into force. The text prohibits the use, development, production, testing, parking, stockpiling and threat of use of such weapons. “This text is not symbolic since the violation of the treaty by the signatory States will entail sanctions ”, believes Camille Cressent, doctoral student in public international law. The text has been supported by many developing countries which do not have nuclear weapons. « These States are afraid of the atomic weapon and especially of those who have it ”, she continues.

► What are the limits of this text?

The scope of this treaty remains reduced by its long list of absentees: China, Russia, the United States, France and the United States. “This treaty will have no direct impact on non-signatory states. But the countries which have ratified it hope that this treaty will push the “big ones” to align “, considers Camille Cressent. According to the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), Russia and the United States together hold more than 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. “The states possessing atomic weapons have no interest in signing this treaty. They will never give up their nuclear arsenal ”, analyzes the specialist.

France is an example of a country where the policy of nuclear deterrence is at the heart of the military arsenal. “The French state plans to devote 5 billion euros to weapons of mass destruction in 2021 with a target of 6 billion in 2024”, informs Jean-Marie Collin. However, the spokesperson for ICAN wants to believe that this treaty will have an impact – even limited – on the main holders of atomic weapons: “ This text will have the effect of putting pressure on non-signatory states by creating political and diplomatic stigmatization. This mechanism will help to increase the debate around nuclear weapons at the national level. “

► What is the context of this treaty banning nuclear weapons?

The issue of disarmament has crystallized tensions recently when heated discussions between Russia and the United States on the American-Russian New Start treaty resurfaced. Concluded in 2010, it should expire in February 2021. The two countries cannot come to an agreement, Moscow judging “Unacceptable »The freezing of nuclear arsenals proposed by Washington. “The Russians and the Americans still maintain this climate of cold war”, regrets Camille Cressent.

US President Donald Trump would like to include China in the New Start treaty, but the latter refuses, considering that it is still far from the stocks of the other two states. This US-Russian treaty is considered the last nuclear deal in force, containing the arsenals of both countries below their Cold War peaks. Indeed, in 2019, the American president decided to withdraw the United States from the Treaty on Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) signed in 1986 between Washington and Moscow. Donald Trump accused Russia of having raped him.


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