UN committee calls for outlawing nuclear weapons despite UK opposition

The United Kingdom has rejected a resolution at the United Nations to hold a global summit on eradicating nuclear weapons despite the motion winning support from over 120 other nations.

Along with the United States, Russia, Israel and France, the UK voted against the resolution raised by the UN's disarmament and international security committee, but overwhelming support elsewhere means it will now go before the General Assembly.

The Government said it was committed to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, but supported gradual multilateral disarmament within "existing international frameworks".

Pro-disarmament campaigners accused the Government of attempting to "thwart" vital negotiations and questioned why, with the cost of renewing Britain's nuclear defences costing "£205 billion" it opposed a "clear and concrete" disarmament plan.

A total of 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution while 38 opposed it and 16 abstained. The resolution aims to set up a conference in March to negotiate a "legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination".

Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa were among countries to support the resolution, but the Foreign Office said it did not support the proposed talks.

A spokesman said: "The UK is committed to a world without nuclear weapons, in line with our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"The UK voted against the resolution at the UN General Assembly First Committee as we do not believe that the negotiations it mandates will lead to progress on global nuclear disarmament.

"We firmly believe that the best way to achieve a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament negotiated using a step-by-step approach and within existing international frameworks."

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said the negotiations could follow in a similar vein to past efforts that saw the banning of biological and chemical weapons, land mines and cluster bombs and urged the Government to reconsider.

Kate Hudson, the group's general secretary, said: "[It's] very disappointing to see the British government attempt to thwart these vital negotiations.

"The Government that has begun replacing Trident, Britain's own nuclear weapons system, at a cost of £205 billion, has repeatedly said it supports a multilateral approach to global abolition. So why is it opposing what is now before us: a clear and concrete multilateral plan?

"We urge the British Government to rethink its approach, to support and participate in the UN conference in 2017 that will explore steps towards a global nuclear ban."