India, China and and Pakistan on Tuesday joined a boycott led by the United States against a United Nations meeting to discuss a ban on nuclear weapons. Almost 40 countries including the United Kingdom, France, Israel and Russia expressed their opposition to it, Reuters reported. Japan, which was targeted in atomic attacks in 1945, too opposed the negotiations while saying that the lack consensus would undermine the effort towards nuclear disarmament.

Proposed in October 2016, the ban has the support of around 123 non-nuclear states. Pope Francis and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres have supported the effort, The Washington Post reported. The US and other members protesting the initiative said the ban was not a practical solution, and that the organisation should instead consider a phased programme.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters that the nations opposing the talks in New York believe in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims at curbing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?” Haley said.

Among the nations supporting the negotiations are Austria, Ireland, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Sweden, while hundreds of non-government organisations have expressed their solidarity with the proposal. The promoters are using the prohibition of landmines in 1997 as a model for their initiative.

“I expect that this will take a long time, let’s not be naive,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom has told UN members last week. “But it’s very important in these days when you see more of this rhetoric, and also sort of power demonstrations, including threatening to use nuclear weapons,” BBC quoted Wallstrom as saying.

In December, the UN General Assembly had adopted a resolution to “negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. While 113 members voted in favour, 35 opposed it and 13 abstained.