Quakers in Britain have released a statement urging the British government to abide by newly ratified international law which bans the development and use of nuclear weapons.
The United Nations announced on Saturday that the required 50 countries have now signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), meaning that it will now be officially enshrined in law.
The United Kingdom — along with a handful of other nuclear-armed nations — have refused to sign up to the treaty, prompting firm words from the Quakers.
Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said: "Love for our neighbour is the very heart of the Christian way of life. How can we love someone, and yet have a nuclear weapon, a horrific instrument of death, primed and ready for launch, pointed towards them at the same time?
"We have to find a better way. Nuclear weapons make us no safer. This treaty is a start, and Quakers urge the UK government to sign it, and to dismantle our nuclear arsenal."
The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, called the treaty a "culmination of a worldwide movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons".
He added that it represents a "meaningful commitment towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons" - something which he says remains "the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations".
Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross said the ratification was "a victory for humanity and a promise of a safer future".
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), whose advocacy on the issue won them the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, called the development a “historic milestone”.
"This moment has been 75 years coming since the horrific attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the founding of the UN which made nuclear disarmament a cornerstone,” said the executive director of ICAN, Beatrice Fihn. "The 50 countries that ratify this Treaty are showing true leadership in setting a new international norm that nuclear weapons are not just immoral but illegal."
Other nations who have refused to sign the treaty include the United States, France, China and Russia.
The UK is a signatory to the 1968 Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), which aims to prevent the development and spread of nuclear weapons across the globe.
In 2017, the government reaffirmed its commitment to the "long term goal of a world without nuclear weapons" and backed the NPT as "the cornerstone of the international nuclear non proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and for peaceful uses of nuclear energy".
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will come into force on 22 January, 2021.