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US does 'not support' UN treaty banning nuclear weapons: Blinken

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to the media during a news conference after the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting in Riga, Latvia, on Dec. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Roman Koksarov)

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) -- The U.S. government on Wednesday maintained its opposition against a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, saying such outright prohibitions will not help achieve disarmament goals.

    "We do not support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons," Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a press conference in Latvia. "Seeking to ban nuclear weapons through a treaty that does not include any of the countries that actually possess nuclear weapons is not likely to produce any results."

    The top U.S. diplomat's remarks came as he was asked about a plan by Germany's incoming coalition government to join the first meeting of the treaty's signatories in March as an observer, a shift in stance by a key NATO member hosting U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory.

    Germany's move is seen as putting pressure on Japan to do the same. Although Japan, as the only country in the world to have suffered the devastation of atomic bombings, aspires to a world free of nuclear arms, it relies on U.S. atomic weapons for protection.

    Blinken, who visited Latvia to attend a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said the United States welcomes the incoming German government's announcement that it will remain in NATO's "nuclear-sharing" arrangement.

    NATO partly relies on U.S. nuclear weapons deployed in Europe for its deterrence, with members such as Germany having aircraft that could deliver the atomic bombs.

    Blinken emphasized that the United States is committed to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, saying the pact has been "at the heart of the global non-proliferation and disarmament effort for, now, more than 50 years."

    "We stand ready to work with all countries on tangible and verifiable measures to reduce strategic risk and enable real progress on nuclear disarmament. That is the objective," he added.

    While nuclear powers often speak of the importance of promoting nuclear arms control or disarmament, progress has been slow despite concerns over the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

    The U.N. treaty, which came into force in January this year, completely outlaws the development, testing, possession and use of nuclear weapons. It only binds states that have formally signed and ratified it.

    Countries such as Austria, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Vietnam and South Africa have ratified the pact.

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