These are the lone category of weapons of mass destruction still to be outlawed, although the very first resolution of the UN General Assembly pledged was regarding their abolition. The good news, in the form of the adoption of a new UN treaty, prohibits the testing, production, acquisition and transfer of nuclear arms and seeks to punish states for the environmental and humanitarian consequences of all such activity.
Are the world’s nine official and unofficial Nuclear Weapons States (NWSs) on board?
No. All of them, and their allies, boycotted the treaty negotiations. They still swear by the deterrent value of nuclear weapons and defend their position citing North Korea’s nuclear belligerence, which they simultaneously denounce. The treaty provides a pathway for the NWSs to disarm and join the global ban.
How close is Pyongyang to having the dreaded weapon?
The government asserted that the underground explosion the country conducted in September, the sixth and most powerful since the 2006 detonation, was a hydrogen bomb. Experts view the claim with scepticism but there is near unanimity that the North Korean nuclear programme is at an intermediate stage of development. Similarly, the intercontinental ballistic missile Pyongyang launched in late November, named Hwasong-15, is believed to be bigger and more powerful than the devices tested previously. Its efficacy must be viewed against the Hwasong-14, fired earlier this year, capable of...Read more