Government under pressure to sign nuclear ban treaty

the use of nuclear weapons has been controversial since they were used at the end of the Second World War against Japan. The picture shows a mushroom cloud of a nuclear bomb in Bikini lagoon in 1946. Keystone

Parliament has urged the Swiss government to ratify a United Nations accord banning nuclear arms and to submit it to a political debate for approval.

This content was published on December 12, 2018 - 16:06 with SDA-ATS, urs

The Senate on Wednesday followed the House of Representatives approving a formal call thereby overruling a government decision earlier in the year not to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Supporters said failure to sign the accord sent a negative message to the international community and undermined Switzerland’s credibility as a champion of humanitarian law.

Opponents argued that the treaty only had symbolic value and would in no way advance the cause of a nuclear-free world.

Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis dismissed allegations that Switzerland was jeopardising its humanitarian tradition if it refused the agreement. He added that most European countries had criticised the UN treaty because it weakened the security situation on the continent.

In August, the government stated that the arguments against outweighed the potential opportunities of joining the treaty.

The TPNW will enter into force when at least 50 countries ratify it. Signatories have obligations not to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. The agreement also prohibits the deployment of nuclear weapons on national territory and assistance to any country involved in prohibited activities.

So far, 67 countries have approved the treaty and another 19 have ratified it.

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