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South Africa has welcomed the entry into force of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. 

“Today [22 January 2021] marks a turning point in humanity’s endeavour to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It is the culmination of that very first UN Generally Assembly resolution in 1946, which sought to deal with the elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons adaptable to mass destruction. 

“It cannot be over emphasised that the TPNW [Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons] is not the final word on nuclear weapons, but a critical step in the evolution of the regime that would be required to achieve and eventually maintain a world without nuclear weapons. 

“Its approach is consistent with the approach taken in the elimination of other unacceptable weapons, where prohibition preceded elimination,” said International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor on Friday. 

South Africa is of the view that the TPNW represents one of the most important developments in the area of nuclear disarmament since 1945. 

The TPNW not only complements the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but strengthens the NPT, as the TPNW represents the highest non-proliferation standard that any State can commit to. 

It also provides the opportunity for those States that are not located in nuclear weapon-free zones to join an instrument that expresses their total opposition to nuclear weapons. 

The denuclearisation of South Africa is symbiotically linked to the country’s democratisation. 

In his last address to the UN General Assembly in 1998, the late President Nelson Mandela posed a pertinent question in relation to nuclear weapons when he said: “We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway?” 

Pandor on Friday renewed South Africa’s commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again by anyone, under any circumstances. 


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