In a rare joint statement, the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France reaffirmed their goal of creating a world free of atomic weapons and avoiding nuclear conflicts.
The five signatories agreed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
The statement, released by the Kremlin website, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the White House and the Elysee Palace, seat of French President Emmanuel Macron, says nuclear weapons should be used for defensive ends, discourage aggression and prevent war, because the use of nuclear power would have far-reaching consequences.
The five underlined the importance of non-proliferation, disarmament, as well as arms control agreements and commitments.
American nuclear weapons ended the conflict in 1945 with detonations on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan; the USSR tested its first nuclear device in 1949, the United Kingdom in 1952, France in 1960 and China in 1964.
The five countries, all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, have declared that they will remain committed to their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The statement was designed to coincide with the opening of a United Nations conference on disarmament, but the meeting was postponed due to an increase in Covid-19 cases.
No word on testing
A crucial element left out is the issue of nuclear testing, which shows the division between the signatories.
The United States and China signed but did not ratify the UN Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CNTB), while France and the United Kingdom both ratified the agreement in 1998 , and Russia in 2000.
According to the CNTBO, the United States carried out 1,032 tests between 1945 and 1992, the USSR 715, followed by France (210), the United Kingdom (45) and China (45).
All tests were plotted by Japanese artist Isao Hashimoto on a time-lapse world map of the locations of all nuclear explosions from 1945 to 1998, which was published by the CNTBO.
Where are the weapons?
India and Pakistan both carried out two tests in 1998, and North Korea said it carried out six tests between 2006 and 2017.
According to the Arms Control Association, there are some 13,080 nuclear warheads in the world, with the United States and Russia controlling 90% of them.
The majority – 9,600 of them – are in service, the rest awaiting dismantling.
Nuclear disarmament negotiations could prove difficult. In November 2021, the US Department of Defense said in a report that China was developing its nuclear force faster than expected and could have more than 1,000 warheads by 2030.
China strongly denies these claims.
On Tuesday, Fu Cong, director general of the foreign ministry’s arms control department, retorted that Beijing would be happy to cut its arsenal if others cut theirs.
“The two superpowers must (…) drastically reduce their nuclear capacities to a level comparable to the level of China, and moreover to the level of France and the United Kingdom, so that other nuclear states can join to this process, ”he said. noted.
The statement was released at a time of growing tensions between the United States and Russia over Russia’s military build-up along the Ukrainian border – sparked by Moscow’s anger at the expansion of Washington and the United States. NATO in what Moscow sees in its sphere of influence.
In the Pacific, China pushes back the massive U.S. military presence in the region in the form of dozens of military bases in Japan and South Korea, while Washington is wary of Beijing’s growing military assertion in the Sea of Southern China.