October 28, 2016 - 12:58 AMT
UN to launch talks on nuclear weapons ban

A UN General Assembly committee on Thursday, October 27 voted to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons despite fierce opposition from the world's nuclear powers, AFP reports.

A resolution presented by Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa and Brazil was adopted by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions, following weeks of lobbying by the nuclear powers for 'no' votes.

The non-binding resolution provides for negotiations to begin in March next year on the new treaty, citing deep concern over the "catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."

Four of the five UN Security Council nuclear powers -- Britain, France, Russia and the United States -- voted against the resolution while China abstained, as did India and Pakistan.

Japan, which has long campaigned against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against it, as did South Korea, which is facing a nuclear threat from North Korea, AFP says.

Opponents argued that nuclear disarmament should be addressed within negotiations on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The measure is expected to go to the full General Assembly for a vote in late November or early December.