Saying that the time was not the right time for such measures, the United States led a group of countries – which include allies like Britain and France – in a boycott against a conference at the United Nations (UN) which proposes to ban all nuclear weapons. It is one those few times that Russia and China – two other veto wielding rival nations – stand on the same side of a major policy issue as the United States. Pakistan and India, also usually found on opposite ends of UN resolutions, have expressed their opposition to the move.

The lines, as they are currently drawn, are not based on political affiliations; instead the nations with nuclear weapons oppose the ban, the ones without support it. A group of 120 nations led the efforts to start a conversation on the ban back in October of last year, but despite their numbers, this outcome was to be expected. The official reason given by the United States and its allies is that countries like North Korea and Iran will not abide by the ban and hence global disarmament would never be possible – although both North Korea and Iran sat in on the talks. However, it is not hard to see that the military and political power afforded by nuclear weapons will never make them obsolete for the nations that possess them. Given how almost all nuclear-capable countries are in the process of upgrading their arsenal, it is difficult to see them give it up.

Despite the nigh impossibility of the move, counties who support the ban are not deterred. They hope to pass a resolution banning nuclear weapons through their numbers, and then letting the moral and legal pressure generated from the abstinence of major nations to whittle them down. These are ambitious, and slightly unrealistic plans – ones that would take decades to have any effect.