NEW YORK – A Japan-led draft U.N. resolution on the elimination of nuclear weapons passed a General Assembly committee Wednesday with the endorsement of 163 countries, paving the way for adoption at a plenary meeting in December.
While this is the 21st year in a row that such a resolution spearheaded by Japan has been introduced at the global body, the latest draft has a record number of co-sponsors — more than 110 countries, including nuclear powers such as the United States and Britain, according to the Japanese mission at the United Nations.
Adopted by the First Committee, which addresses disarmament and security issues, the resolution welcomes announcements and recent updates on overall nuclear warhead stockpiles by three of the five major nuclear powers — the United States, Britain and France — and an update on its nuclear arsenal by Russia. The updates “further enhance transparency and increase mutual confidence,” the resolution notes.
It does not make any reference to the fifth power, China, which is believed to be increasing its nuclear arsenal.
At a news conference following the vote, Toshio Sano, the Geneva-based Japanese ambassador for disarmament, took note of the lack of transparency about China’s nuclear weapons, saying “I hope Chinese government officials take (the resolution) as a message to that effect.”
Fourteen countries, including China, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel, abstained. North Korea was the only country that opposed the resolution.
“As long as the United States persists in its hostile policy, the DPRK will further bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense,” a North Korean official said before the vote, referring to his country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The document condemns “in the strongest terms” the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea and its missile development.
This year’s draft calls on all the countries that are party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to collaborate for a successful NPT review conference, to be held in April and May next year, the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The draft resolution expresses “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and cites the need for all member states to achieve “a world without nuclear weapons.”