First meeting of nuclear weapons ban treaty kicks off

People fighting to eliminate the risk of nuclear war are in Vienna where the first progress meeting on a UN treaty that would make the weapons illegal is now underway. But the world's nuclear powers are noticeably absent.

Delegates are set to discuss ways to get nuclear-armed states to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. More than 13,000 remain in arsenals around the world. Nearly half are in Russia.

This three-day event comes amid rising concerns that the nation could unleash the devastating weapons on Ukraine.

Finland is one of nearly 30 nations attending as an observer. Russia's invasion prompted it to apply for NATO membership in the hope of coming under the US nuclear umbrella.

Finland's UN ambassador said his country isn't convinced the treaty can achieve its goal, but he supports the discussion.

Finnish Ambassador for Arms Control Jarmo Viinanen said, "We think that it's very important to listen to each other to understand each other's view in a way that we can find common ground when we are seeking to achieve the world without nuclear weapons."

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the treaty an important step toward ridding the world of a scourge.

He said, "The decisions you make at this meeting will help cement the Treaty's position as an essential element of the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. And it will hopefully convince more countries to get on board."

The treaty entered into force in January of last year. So far, 65 states parties have ratified it. That list does not include any countries that possess the weapons or the nations they protect.