From AIDOGHIE PAULINUS, New York
On the margins of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the federal government, has signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, signed on behalf of the federal government, with additional signatories from 55 other countries.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, otherwise known as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, is the first legally-binding international agreement that would comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons, with the utmost aim of leading towards the whole elimination of nuclear weapons.
It was passed by the United Nations on July 7, 2017 and for the treaty to come into effect, signature and ratification by a minimum of 50 countries is required.
Also, regarding countries that are party to the treaty, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, stationing, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance and encouragement to the prohibited activities.
Similarly, for nuclear armed states joining the treaty, it provides for a time-bound framework for negotiations leading to the verified and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons programme.
Speaking after the ceremony, Onyeama said Nigeria signed the treaty because right from the early 60s, Nigeria has been a strong advocate for nuclear weapons’ prohibition and also, non proliferation of nuclear weapons.
“You may recall that in the early 60s, France tested an atom bomb, a nuclear device in the Sahara and Nigeria broke up diplomatic relations with France.
“So, ever since that period, we’ve always been very much a strong advocate for de-nuclearization of the world,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama added that Nigeria was one of the main movers of the treaty, even as he said it was just unfortunate that countries who have nuclear weapons view them as deterance and believe they safeguard their security.
“We hope that at least, the treaty is there, it exists and it will now be really a great effort by those countries that have signed and also, as they were mentioning today, by the civil society and other inter-governmental organisations to really push and get a larger number of countries to accede to the treaty, and especially, those nuclear weapons’ state,” Onyeama stated.
Speaking on how to get the almost 60 countries who boycotted the adoption of the treaty convinced to join the treaty, including the problems associated with the enforcement, Onyeama said it was a question of exposed strategy and trust.
He added that countries needed to trust each other when they say that they have destroyed all their nuclear weapons.
“No country wants to be the first to give up. So, what has obtained since the Second World War, is a philosophy of mutually-assured destruction, letting the other side know that if they attack you with nuclear weapons, that the result will be ‘everybody will go.’
“And that is what has sort of maintained that balance up till now. But we are saying that no, we have international organizations, the International Atomic Agency for instance, who should be trusted with the task of verification that no country possesses those weapons.
“So, it means that those countries that do, have to be willing to open themselves up to complete verification by international body. But we haven’t got there yet,” Onyeama noted. Sunnews.