COLOMBO: Sri Lanka is unlikely to sign the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty which is scheduled to come up for signatures in New York on September 20, Sri Lankan government sources confirmed on Sunday.

Sources said that the item was listed as to be discussed during President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to the US from September 17 to 23. But apparently due to last minute pressure from the US, any thought of signing up was given up, the sources added.

The US does not want the treaty to get sufficient support to make it legally binding. The treaty needs the support of at least 50 countries.

According to The Sunday Times, 38 counties had pledged by Friday, but the number of countries actually signing might be quite different, the paper added.

Reacting to Sri Lanka’s decision, Dr.Jayantha Dhanapala, a retired Sri Lankan diplomat who had been UN Under Secretary General and had re-established the Department of Disarmament, described the Sri Lankan decision as “appalling”.

“It represents the abandonment of the country’s unsullied record of adherence to the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement,” he said.

Dhanapala held the US responsible for Colombo’s decision. US hand is seen in Singapore’s joining the Western world in opting out, government sources said.

Not surprisingly, India and Pakistan are opting out. Other countries in South Asia are expected to sign though.

Sri Lanka had a different stance on international affairs till the pro-West Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government was established in 2015. The post-Rajapaksa government has been toeing the US line in foreign affairs in return for America’s tolerance and patience on war crimes and post-war reconciliation issues.

Recently, Sri Lanka took the US line on North Korea and condemned the testing of a hydrogen bomb.

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will be in New York during the signing of the nuclear test ban treaty. During his stay from September 17 to 23, he will address the UN General Assembly on September 19.