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France, US, UK slam new UN nuclear treaty

French President Emmanuel Macron views a nuclear submarine at the Ile Longue Defence unit near Brest, western France Reuters/Stephane Mahe

France, Britain and the US have slammed a new global nuclear ban treaty for "disregarding reality". While 122 countries backed the treaty at the UN, none of the existing nuclear powers took part in the drafting of the resolution or the vote.

"This initiative clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment," a statement from the three countries' UN ambassadors said.

They claimed the treaty will create "even more divisions at a time when the world needs to remain united in the face of growing threats, including those from the DPRK's [Democratic People's Republic of Korea's] ongoing proliferation efforts", adding that it does not address "other security challenges that make nuclear deterrence necessary".

Led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand, 141 countries joined in drafting the treaty provides for a total ban on developing, stockpiling and threatening to use nuclear armaments.

Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland voted in favour as did Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Kazakhstan and many African and Latin American countries.

Nato member The Netherlands voted against, while Singapore abstained.

None of the nine countries that currently have nuclear weapons -- the US, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel -- took part in the negotiations or the vote, nor did Japan, the only country to have suffered a nuclear attack, in 1945, or most Nato members.

They argue that the already-existing nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and limit expansion by those who already have them, is adequate.

The new treaty will be open for signatures on 20 September and will come into force when 50 countries have ratified it.