Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

What does the treaty prohibit?
The treaty prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, or allowing another state’s nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory. The treaty also prohibits states from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities.

Is the treaty legally binding?
Yes – and no. Once it enters into force, the treaty is legally binding on those states that have signed and ratified it, but, like all international treaties, it is not binding on states that do not sign and ratify the treaty.

When can states sign the treaty?
The treaty opened for signature on 20 September 2017 at the United Nations in New York. It will remain open indefinitely for states to sign, so that whenever a state is ready to sign, it can do so. You can see which states have signed and / or ratified the treaty here.

How many states must ratify it before it enters into force?
Fifty states must sign and ratify the treaty before it can enter into force. Signing is a relatively simple act by the leader of a state; ratifying, however, usually involves passing legislation through parliament to bring the prohibition into the state’s national law.

Can a state that possesses nuclear weapons join the treaty?
Yes. It can join the treaty, so long as it agrees to remove their nuclear weapons from operational status immediately and present a legally binding, time-bound and verifiable plan to destroy their nuclear weapons.

Can a state that hosts nuclear weapons on its territory join the treaty?
A state that hosts another state’s nuclear weapons on its territory can join the treaty, so long as it agrees to remove them by a specified deadline.

Can a state join the treaty and remain in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state?
Yes. Nothing in the treaty prevents a state from being in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state, so long as its participation in that alliance does not include prohibited acts involving nuclear weapons.

Does the treaty establish verification measures or safeguards to ensure that states do not develop nuclear weapons?
Yes. States that have safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) must keep these agreements, without prejudice to concluding additional ones in the future. States that do not have safeguards are required to conclude an agreement in line with the NPT requirements within 18 months. The treaty does not undermine any obligations that states have made to safeguards under the NPT.

Can a state assert that certain parts of the treaty do not apply to it?
No. The treaty does not allow a nation to make “reservations”. This means that a nation cannot join the treaty and assert that certain provisions of it do not apply to it.

Can a state withdraw from the treaty?
Yes. In exercising its sovereignty, a nation can withdraw from the treaty. It must provide 12 months’ notice. However, it cannot withdraw if it is involved in an armed conflict.

So what do we need to campaign on now?
The work does not end here – indeed, in many ways it starts here ! Internationally, CND Cymru will support other peace groups worldwide, to encourage as many states as possible to sign and ratify the treaty, to ensure that the treaty enters into force and creates a strong norm against nuclear weapons that will lead to nuclear disarmament. This is long-term work, it will not happen overnight.

Our work at home against nuclear weapons must continue alongside, and in the light of, this hugely significant international development. Britain will only sign this treaty once we have persuaded the majority of people – and the majority of politicians – that we (and everyone else) will be safer without nuclear weapons.

ICAN booklet

What you can do

Write to your MP and MSs asking them to sign the Parliamentarian Pledge of Support. Although the British government is totally opposed to the treaty, we need to show that there is considerable support amongst our elected politicians.

Collect signatures on the petition opposing Trident and supporting the treaty.

Internationally, write to the ambassadors or governments of countries urging them to sign and ratify the treaty. Individual letters, especially in one of the official languages of the country, will carry most influence; and remember to stress that we want their (and every) country to sign, including our own country !