The United Nations says it’s time to take another look at eliminating nuclear weapons. But the countries that have them are united by one thing: their desire to keep the weapons. On Thursday, UN member states voted on a resolution that would create a pathway to banning nuclear weapons. There was substantial support for the measure, with 123 countries voting in favor. All nine countries that have nuclear weapons, however, opposed the potential ban.

A split this early in the process highlights the challenges inherent in eliminating nuclear capability. Nations like the United States, Russia, and China see maintaining nuclear capabilities as essential to securing their citizens – and their allies – against outside threats. But supporters of the ban say that, even if it started out without universal adherence, a treaty would create international pressure on nuclear countries to draw down and destroy their stockpiles. CONTINUE