The five member countries of the Security Council, the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France, pledged, Monday, January 3, to “Prevent further dissemination” nuclear weapons, in a joint statement ahead of a non-proliferation treaty (NPT) review conference.
The signatories are the five states legally recognized as “Equipped with nuclear weapons” by the NPT. Three other countries considered to have the atomic bomb – India, Pakistan and Israel – are not signatories to the treaty, while North Korea denounced it.
Reassure about the risk of nuclear war
“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, say the five signatory countries. “In view of the far-reaching consequences that the use of nuclear weapons would have, we also affirm that they, as long as they exist, must be used for defensive purposes, deterrence and prevention of war”, they add. “Each of us intends to maintain and further strengthen our national measures aimed at preventing the unauthorized or unintentional use of nuclear weapons”, continues the text.
By this joint declaration, the signatories intend to reassure world public opinion of the risks of an obviously cataclysmic confrontation. Statements have multiplied in recent months on the volatile nature of global geopolitics, between Sino-American tensions over Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific, the noise of boots in Ukraine and other multiple crises in the Near and Middle East, devastating consequences of the Covid- 19.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres himself sounded the alarm in December in a column published by Sunday Newspaper :
“Considering the stockpiling of over 13,000 nuclear weapons in arsenals around the world, how long can our luck last? Nuclear annihilation is a sword of Damocles: it would only take a misunderstanding or a mistake of judgment to bring not only suffering and death on an appalling scale, but also the end of all life on earth. “
Negotiations with Iran
This declaration is published before the holding, scheduled this year under the auspices of the United Nations, of the tenth review conference of the parties to the NPT, the international treaty that entered into force in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. It has 191 States Parties.
In the midst of negotiations with Iran, suspected of wanting to acquire the atomic bomb, these five nuclear powers emphasize their “Willingness to work with all States to put in place a security environment enabling further progress to be made in the area of disarmament, with the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons”, specifies the French presidency, which has been coordinating the work of these countries for two years.
Westerners suspect Iran of seeking to develop, using the technology of its satellite launchers, long-range ballistic launchers capable of carrying conventional or nuclear charges. Negotiations resumed in December in Vienna to relaunch the 2015 agreement on its nuclear program, which became moribund after the withdrawal of the United States in 2018.
Hailed by Russia and China
On Monday, Moscow welcomed the agreement in principle between the five major nuclear powers, hoping that it “Would help reduce the level of international tensions”, according to a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, for his part, told RIA Novosti that Moscow still believes ” necessary ” a summit of nuclear powers.
The joint declaration “Will help to increase mutual trust and replace competition between the great powers with coordination and cooperation”, also reacted the official news agency New China, quoting the vice-minister of foreign affairs, Ma Zhaoxu.
Asked by Agence France-Presse, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2017, judged this statement « positive ».
“But the fact that [les signataires] modernize and renew at the same time their arsenals completely calls into question their declaration “, said Jean-Marie Collin, spokesperson for ICAN France, calling for the participation of these countries in the first conference of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TIAN) to be held in March, in Austria .
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“A nuclear war must never be fought”: the five countries of the Security Council undertake to prevent the dissemination of nuclear weapons