Parties to a U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons warned of the "existential threat to humanity" posed by nuclear arms and reaffirmed their commitment to the "prohibition and complete elimination" of the weapons in a declaration they adopted at the end of their five-day meeting on Friday.
While a draft of the declaration of the parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in New York stated opposition to nuclear sharing, whereby countries host nuclear bombs, such an explicit reference to the practice was removed from the final text.
The statement, which instead expressed regret at the practice of "extended nuclear security guarantees," came as Belgium, Germany and Norway participated as observer states at the meeting despite their status as nuclear umbrella states as members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
"We are united and we reaffirm our commitment to the prohibition of nuclear weapons," the meeting's chair, Juan Ramon de la Fuente of Mexico, said after the adoption of the declaration. "We are determined to make progress in implementing our treaty."
The statement of the parties said nuclear risks are being "exacerbated" by modernization and the expansion of nuclear arsenals along with an increasing emphasis on nuclear weapons in military postures, adding that "humanity is moving closer to global nuclear catastrophe."
"The only guarantee against the use of nuclear weapons is their complete elimination and the legally binding assurance that they will never be developed again," the statement said.
Survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and civil society have urged Japan, the only country to have been attacked with nuclear weapons, to sign the treaty or participate as an observer.
But Japan, which relies on the United States to provide nuclear deterrence, has declined, citing a lack of participation by nuclear weapons states.