NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference at the 70th Anniversary NATO Summit at the Grove in Hertfordshire in December 2019. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 15 (UPI) -- NATO released a statement Tuesday explaining its opposition to the United Nations' new treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The alliance said it is committed to the preservation and strengthening of arms control, disarmament and non-profileration, but that the treaty "is at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture."
"NATO is a defensive alliance," the statement said. "The fundamental purpose of NATO's nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression."
"A world where the states that challenge the international rules-based order have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world. As long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance," the alliance said.
Representatives from 122 of the 192 United Nations member countries U.N. formally adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017.
No nuclear-armed state has backed the treaty, which is set to go into effect in January, and when it was adopted then-ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said it wasn't realistic.
Last month, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made similar comments last month at the alliance's annual weapons of mass destruction conference.
"Giving up our deterrent without any guarantees that others will do the same is a dangerous option," Stoltenberg said. "A world where Russia, China, North Korea and others have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world."
NATO's Tuesday statement argues that the agreement would weaken the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the U.N. adopted in 1970.
"The NPT remains the only credible path to nuclear disarmament," NATO's statement said.
"The ban treaty lacks any rigorous or clear mechanisms for verification," the alliance said, adding that it "has not been signed by any state that possesses nuclear weapons, and thus will not result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon."