Five of World’s Most Powerful Nations Pledge To Avoid Nuclear War

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Five of the world’s most powerful nations have agreed that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” in a rare joint pledge to reduce the risk of such a conflict ever starting. The pledge was signed by the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, the five nuclear weapons states recognized by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) who are also the five permanent members of the UN security council. They are known as the P5 or the N5. Such a common statement on a major issue of global security has become a rarity at a time of increasing friction between Russia, China and the west. With Moscow threatening to invade Ukraine and China signaling its readiness to use military force against Taiwan, the joint statement represents a renewed commitment to prevent any confrontation turning into a nuclear catastrophe.

A senior US state department official said the wording of the statement had been hammered out at P5 meetings over several months, despite the high-tension environment. “At the base level to be able to say that this is how we think about these risks, and this is an acknowledgement that it is something that we want to avoid, particularly during a difficult time, I think is noteworthy,” the official said. The release of the statement had been timed to coincide with the five-yearly review conference of the NPT, but that conference has been postponed amid the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and disagreements on whether the session could be held virtually. “We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the statement said, echoing a joint declaration by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev at a 1985 summit in Geneva.

The NPT was a bargain between states without nuclear weapons, who pledged not to acquire them, and the five nuclear-armed states, which promised to disarm. The review conference, originally planned for 2020, was expected to be contentious as a result of the stalling of momentum towards disarmament and the moves made by the five weapons states to modernize their arsenals. Four other countries with nuclear weapons, not recognized under NPT: Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — have also shown no signs of reducing their stockpiles. Meanwhile, the breakdown of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and the deadlock so far in attempts to salvage it, have raised the risks of nuclear proliferation, particularly in the Middle East. Monday’s joint statement was aimed at improving the atmosphere at the NPT review conference.