US, Britain, France and others skip United Nations talks to ban nuclear weapons

"The US has reduced its weapons by 85 percent", said Haley, flanked by French and British ambassadors to the United Nations, who she said had already reduced their own nuclear stockpiles by half in keeping with the existing nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Haley spoke in a group of some 20 ambassadors from U.S. allies who are boycotting the negotiations, including Britain, France and South Korea, Turkey and a number of countries from eastern Europe.

"You are gonna see nearly 40 countries that are not in the General Assembly today, and that's 40 countries that are saying in this day and time, we would love to have a ban on nuclear weapons", Ambassador Nikki Haley of the United State told reporters outside the General Assembly in NY as the talks started. "So what you would see is the General Assembly would go through in good faith trying to do something, but North Korea would be the one cheering, and all of us and the people that we represent would be the ones at risk", she said.

"Suddenly the General Assembly wants to have a hearing to ban nuclear weapons".

The Obama administration encouraged its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in October to vote against the talks and said that a ban would hinder cooperation to respond to nuclear threats.

But supporters of the United Nations process argue that little progress has been made in recent years despite commitments made by the major nuclear powers under the NPT.

U.K. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said negotiations for the ban wouldn't lead to "effective progress to global nuclear disarmament", and instead there should be a "step-by-step approach". They say recent world developments, including North Korea's standoff with the West and the unpredictability of the foreign policy of the new U.S. administration, have raised concerns about a nuclear conflict.

France's Deputy Permanent Representative Alexis Lamek said the NPT remains the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts.

"We need to find a new way to inspire and motivate the public in support of disarmament, in the same way that they have been energized to respond to the challenge of climate change, an existential threat facing humanity", he stated.

In 2009, then-president Barack Obama announced a drive to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and eventually eliminate them.

The Trump administration is reviewing whether it will reaffirm the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, a White House aide said last week, referring to an aim embraced by previous Republican and Democratic presidents and required by a key arms control treaty. "Whenever we asked, we were told that the time was not right".

But his administration strongly encouraged North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to vote against this year's United Nations negotiations, saying a ban would obstruct cooperation to respond to nuclear threats from adversaries. "They did not sign (the cluster munition ban), but they know it's bad".

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