The treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly in 2017. It got its 50th ratification on October 24, triggering a 90-day period before its entry into force on January 22, 2021.
“Today marks a turning point in humanity's endeavour to rid the world of nuclear weapons,” International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor said in a statement.
“It is the culmination of that very first UN General 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 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,” Pandor said.
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 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,” Pandor said.
“Let me take this opportunity to renew 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,” Pandor said, remembering about former President Nelson Mandela having committed to denuclearisation of South Africa.
“The denuclearisation of South Africa is symbiotically linked to our democratisation,” Pandor 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?” Mandela had told the UN in his last address to the body.