Global Nuclear Weapons Ban Approved in 122-1 Vote

Nuclear Powers All Boycott Meeting

In a decisive 122-1 vote at the United Nations, a global ban on nuclear weapons was approved,a massively important step toward disarmament made somewhat less impactful by all the current nuclear-armed states boycotting the meetings.

Which doesn’t mean there weren’t major powers signing the deal. Brazil was a noteworthy signatory, and both Iran and Saudi Arabia signed on the dotted line, along with Egypt, which appears to dramatically reduce the risk of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The sole dissenting vote was also the sole NATO member to even attend the meetings, the Netherlands. They’ve hosted US nuclear arms in the past, and appeared loathe to sign on to a deal that would effectively oblige them to stop such hosting deals.

Generally speaking, close US allies complied with US wishes and boycotted the conference, meaning states like South Korea didn’t attend, despite having much to lose in a potential nuclear war. Another conspicuous absentee was Japan, which likely reflects the Abe Government’s desire to keep cozy relations with the US, but is likely to be hugely controversial within Japan, the only nation to be a victim of nuclear attacks in a war, and a nation with a long history of nuclear disarmament advocacy.

Advocates say that while the lack of nuclear states signing is disappointing, it doesn’t necessarily make the deal worthless, noting that a similar ban on landmines was spurned by US and other landmine using states, but still led to significant, albeit gradual, policy changes which have brought many of those nations into de facto compliance with the treaty.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.