In a rare joint statement issued ahead of a review of a crucial nuclear treaty later this year, five global nuclear powers committed Monday to prevent the spread of atomic weapons and to avoid nuclear conflict.
“We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” stated China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, who are permanent members of the UN Security Council. “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” they said.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the current review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which entered into force in 1970, was postponed from its original date of January 4 until later in the year.
Putting aside current differences that have caused major tensions between China and Russia and their Western partners, the five world powers stated that “the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.” are their top priorities.
“Because nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences,” they wrote in the English translation issued by the White House. “We also affirm that nuclear weapons should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war for as long as they exist.”
“We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons.” the powers stated.
The declaration comes as tensions between Russia and the US have risen to levels not seen since the Cold War over Moscow’s force buildup near the Ukrainian border.
This has fueled speculation that the Kremlin is plotting another strike on its pro-Western neighbor.
Meanwhile, China’s growth under President Xi Jinping has increased fears that tensions with the United States might escalate to confrontation, particularly over Taiwan.
Beijing believes Taiwan to be part of its territory and has threatened to annex it in the future, if necessary by force.
Russia praised the atomic powers’ declaration, expressing the hope that it would lessen global tensions.
“We hope that, in the current difficult conditions of international security, the approval of such a political statement will help reduce the level of international tensions,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti that a meeting of the world’s nuclear powers was still “necessary”
The declaration also comes as international countries try to negotiate an agreement with Iran on renewing the 2015 nuclear deal, which was left lifeless by the United States’ withdrawal from the pact in 2018.
Time is running out to reach an agreement, according to Washington, which has never ruled out military action against Iran.