US pressured NATO states to vote no to a ban

November 1, 2016

In a document from October 17, the United States warned other NATO members that efforts to negotiate a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons or to delegitimise nuclear deterrence “are fundamentally at odds with NATO’s basic policies on deterrence”.

In the letter, the US government strongly urges allies and partners to vote no to the resolution, and “not to merely abstain.” and continues to argue that “if negotiations do commence, we ask allies and partners to refrain from joining them.”

Despite claiming that a ban treaty without the nuclear armed states would be meaningless, the US letter outline what they believe would be clear military implications of a ban treaty and for NATO. The document shows that the United States believe a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, even without the participation of nuclear-armed states, would indeed have a significant impact.

The document was circulated the week before governments voted on L.41, the resolution to start negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

While public pressure and parliamentary calls to support and participate in a ban treaty process are increasing in NATO countries, all NATO member states except one heeded to the US call in this paper and voted no. Only Netherlands, with a clear decision to support a ban treaty from its parliament, abstained.

UPDATE 2/11/2016: Here is a letter from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs to French EU parliamentarians, asking them to vote no on the EU resolution that calls on EU states to support the negotiations of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

Below is some published analysis and commentary from ICAN partner organisations and other experts on NATO issues. (to be updated as more is available)

NATO and a nuclear ban: Completely compatible with legal obligations, even while delegitimising deterrence. Pax, October 2016

Under Pressure, Xanthe Hall, IPPNW, November 2016

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