TWO thirds of United Nations member states are on course to conclude a treaty on the banning of nuclear weapons this year – despite dissent from the UK, US and some Nato countries.

A draft of the ground-breaking UN Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, resulting from the first session of the negotiation conference in March, will be revealed today by conference president Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, in preparation for its final session next month.

The March event was attended by 132 of the UN’s 193 member nations, and came amid a backdrop of growing awareness surrounding the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons.

Non- nuclear weapons states are also said to be impatient over the failure of those with weapons to make progress on Article 6 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This obliges countries to make some genuine progress towards a complete disarmament.

Aid organisations the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Red Crescent have already stated that even a regional exchange of nuclear weapons would mean a disaster beyond any human remedy.

The treaty is likely to follow the pattern of similar texts banning other ordnance such as landmines and chemical weapons and, similarly, will not require ratification by all UN states to become effective.

Last year the US, in a leaked letter, warned its NATO allies not to support the process since a completed treaty would impose significant restraints on its ability to maintain their nuclear posture.

Nuclear-armed nations have boycotted the talks and the UK and US have been prominent in attempting to undermine the treaty. Arthur West, Chair of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) said: “Defenders of the UK’s status as a nuclear-armed state are fond of saying that the way forward is step-by-step multilateral disarmament.

“By completely boycotting these multilateral talks the UK has shown that mantra to be wholly specious.

“We are particularly conscious of this in Scotland since, if we were independent, we would be playing a full and enthusiastic part in the negotiations, instead of being completely misrepresented as at present.

“Above all, the treaty will put nuclear weapons globally in the moral category to which they belong, as hideous and barbaric weapons that bring shame on their promoters and possessors.”

Whyte Gómez said the initial session had shown high levels of support for “prohibitions against possession and stockpiling of nuclear weapons.

She also noted that some delegations also wanted to ensure the ban covers the deployment and stationing of nuclear weapons, as well as their transit and delivery through national territory, and international waters.

But UK ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the UK government decided to join the boycott because “we do not believe that [the UN] negotiations will lead to effective progress on global nuclear disarmament”.

Pope Francis addressed the first session, along with the ICRC head Peter Maurer, who urged for “a clear and unambiguous prohibition of nuclear weapons".