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United Nations — U.N. talks aimed at banning nuclear weapons began Monday, but the United States, Russia, China and other nuclear-armed nations are sitting out a discussion they see as impractical.

Supporters of the potential pact say it’s time to push harder toward eliminating atomic weapons than nations have been doing through the nearly 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

With international tensions rising while public awareness of the nuclear threat has waned, “the need for progress on nuclear disarmament has rarely been as urgent as it is today,” U.N. Under Secretary-General for disarmament Kim Won-soo said as the talks opened.

More than 100 countries voted for a U.N. General Assembly resolution last year to start discussions, with nations including Austria, Brazil and Ireland leading the effort.

But the U.S. and several other nuclear powers say a ban won’t work and the world should instead stick with a more gradual approach.

“As a mom, as a daughter, there is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons. But we have to be realistic,” U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said as she and colleagues from Britain, France and about 20 other nations gathered Monday outside the General Assembly chamber to show opposition to the talks starting inside.

Opponents of the ban plan say gradual disarmament has made a difference. The U.S. has reduced its nuclear arsenal by 85 percent under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Haley said; Britain has cut its nuclear forces by over 50 percent since the height of the Cold War.

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