The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force 90 days after ratification by the 50th signatory state (Honduras) last October. In the agreement, which is largely supported by Austria, the signatories undertake to use these weapons of mass destruction “under no circumstances”.
“We are clearly opening a new page,” said the Foreign Minister. “ The most insidious weapon that man has ever invented is counted today.” Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen was also pleased with the contract that is now in force. This is “an important step and a clear signal that we do not accept these inhuman weapons”.
However, the treaty is being boycotted by all existing nuclear powers. The Russian Foreign Office spokeswoman Maria Sakharova said in Moscow on Thursday that the views of the supporters of the agreement to quickly abolish nuclear weapons are being respected. But Sakharova criticized “the artificial acceleration of nuclear disarmament” against the way in which this goal is to be achieved. “That’s why we see the TPNW as a mistake.” It would cause discord in the international community and would not be able to contribute to the limitation and reduction of nuclear weapons. “ The agreement is ineffective for Russia and the other countries that do not sign or ratify it.”
In view of the boycott of the nuclear powers, Schallenberg was confident that other states would join the 51 parties to the agreement. Specifically, he named Switzerland and Brazil, for example. The Foreign Minister warned that a nuclear weapon ban is more important than ever. The re are more than 13,000 nuclear weapons worldwide. The states with the appropriate know-how have increased. Billions would also be invested in the development of new, even more effective atomic bombs.
This also increases the risk of miscalculations, warned the foreign minister. A medium-sized atom bomb today has six times the power of the Hiroshima bomb. The statistics say that at some point there will also be an incident in a nuclear arsenal, warned Schallenberg. “Nuclear weapons are like the sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of all humanity.”
The Foreign Minister also presented a video simulation showing the consequences of an atom bomb being dropped over St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. As a direct consequence, 230,380 dead and 504,460 injured would be expected. The pressure wave would burst the windows in Hütteldorf, and the ash cloud with radioactive contamination would reach Graz.
The entry into force of the treaty was also welcomed internationally. The first multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty in more than two decades is “an important step towards a world without nuclear weapons and a strong demonstration of support for a multilateral approach to nuclear disarmament,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, according to the dpa news agency in New York.
The Interparliamentary Union (IPU), the global association of the people’s representatives, also supported the agreement. This makes it clear that the development, possession and use of nuclear weapons “is not only immoral, unethical and inhuman, but also illegal,” said IPU General Secretary Martin Chungong in a broadcast. The head of the Organization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo, was also pleased that the agreement, which “puts nuclear disarmament at the center,” has come into force.
The entry into force of the treaty was “a great success for the international community and the longstanding Austrian efforts on this issue,” emphasized Van der Bellen. In this regard, he referred to the account of the International Campaign for the Ban on Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 and is strongly anchored in Austria.
Austria is also to host the first treaty conference of the TPNW in one year, which was signed by 122 countries in 2017. Due to the massive lobbying of the nuclear powers, however, only 51 states have ratified the agreement and 35 others have signed it.
Switzerland has also been on the sidelines so far, although the parliament in Bern has put pressure on the government in this regard. The Swiss ambassador to the UN disarmament conference in Geneva, Felix Baumann, told the Keystone-sda news agency that a “reassessment” was underway. The Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), whose President Peter Maurer praised the entry into force of the agreement on Friday as a “historic step”, is also putting pressure on it.
The proponents of the treaty want to mobilize the public in the nuclear states and their allies such as Germany. Hopes are also being placed in the new US President Joe Biden. He was deputy to US President Barack Obama, who in 2010 developed the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and thus became the initiator of the prohibition treaty.
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Nuclear policy Schallenberg recognizes nuclear weapon ban historic