Nonetheless, delegates from 122 countries — nearly two-thirds of the U.N. membership — participated in the negotiations for the treaty, and 84 have signed it. As of Sunday, 44 of those countries had ratified the treaty, which would come into force 90 days after the 50th ratification. At least one or two more countries may ratify it in coming days or weeks.
Under the treaty, all nuclear-weapons use, threat of use, testing, development, production, possession, transfer and stationing in a different country would be prohibited. For nuclear-armed countries that join, the treaty outlines a process for destroying stockpiles and enforcing the promise to remain free of nuclear weapons.
Signers of the letter are all from countries that have declined to join the treaty, arguing that the nuclear forces of the United States are essential for their own security. They are Albania, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.
Five of those countries — Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey — are believed to house American nuclear weapons on their territory and would therefore be required to remove them if they joined the treaty.
Proponents of the treaty have said they never expected any of the nuclear-armed states to move quickly to sign the treaty and scrap their arsenals. But they hoped that widespread acceptance of the treaty would raise public pressure and that the “shaming effect” on the holdouts to change their position.