The five permanent U.N. Security Council members on Monday issued a statement saying their nuclear weapons were not aimed at each other and that a nuclear war could not be won.
‘We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,’ said the U.S., China, France, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation.
‘As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons – for as long as they continue to exist – should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.
‘We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.’
It comes at a moment of high tension between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine, amid fears that Moscow is about to launch an invasion of its neighbor, and as Washington eyes what it sees as China’s growing regional aggression.
U.S. defense officials have repeatedly warned that Beijing’s advances in weapons technology threaten leave America behind.
The statement sets aside those differences to agree to ‘prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all.’
France, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States – all nuclear armed nations and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – issued a joint statement declaring nuclear war to be unwinnable
The joint statement reasserts the declaration by Presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev after their 1985 summit: ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought’
The statement was released as President Biden is at loggerheads with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s build up of troops on the border with Ukraine
Analysts welcomed the statement, but said the five nuclear-armed powers needed to follow through on their words with actions
In so doing they restate the famous Reagan-Gorbachev declaration from their 1985 summit in Geneva that: ‘A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’
The sentiment was welcomed by non-proliferation campaigners and arms reduction analysts, but several said the five nuclear-armed nations needed to go beyond words.
As Daryl Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, tweeted: ‘Bottom line: each of the N5 are to varying degrees upgrading and modernizing their deadly arsenals, the risk of a catastrophic n-war still too high, key disarmament commitments have not been kept, the nuclear danger is too high.
‘All five must follow-through on their rhetoric.’
At the end of last year, the Pentagon claimed China had increased its nuclear arsenal and could have at least 1000 warheads by the end of the decade.
And this week China signed a deal with leaders in Latin America and the Caribbean to deepen ties across almost all areas of society in what one analyst likened to a plot to ‘take over’ the region.
As part of the deal, Beijing has committed to supplying the region with ‘civilian’ nuclear technology, helping to develop ‘peaceful’ space programmes, building 5G networks of the kind Washington warns will be used to spy on people, and to pumping in cheap loans and financing for ‘elaborate development plans.’
China has pumped cheap money into Latin America and the Caribbean for years, indebting governments and effectively buying influence. Where it has been unable to loan or buy, it has used armies of cheap workers to build key infrastructure projects, giving it outsized influence. And those ties are set to deepen with the signing of a new cooperation pact
The statement also said: ‘We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other state’
China has even pledged to build schools and fund classes teaching Chinese language and ‘culture’, though such institutions have been criticized elsewhere for pushing state propaganda and limiting academic freedom.
It comes off the back of decades of Chinese investment and development in Latin America and the Caribbean which has seen hundreds of billions of dollars poured into the region to build critical infrastructure such as ports, roads, and power plants in what many believe is an attempt to buy power and influence in America’s back yard.
‘There are absolutely ambitions for China to become the dominant influence in Latin America,’ Mateo Haydar, a researcher at the Heritage Foundation, told the Washington Examiner.
The statement was originally expected to be released during a major nuclear treaty conference due to begin on Tuesday at the United Nations. But the meeting has been postponed until August because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
P5 STATEMENT ON PREVENTING NUCLEAR WAR AND AVOIDING ARMS RACES
France, the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities.
We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented.
We reaffirm the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasize the importance of preserving and complying with our bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments. We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation ‘to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.’
We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons. We reiterate the validity of our previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other state.
We underline our desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all. We intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all. We are resolved to pursue constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgment of each other’s security interests and concerns.