The first joint statement from key nuclear-armed states looks encouraging

António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, has praised a joint statement published on Monday by five nuclear-armed states on the prevention of nuclear conflict and the avoidance of an arms race. 

For the first time, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States released a joint declaration pledging to avoid an arms race and not to target each other or any other country. 

The five countries, who are also permanent members of the UN Security Council (often known as the P5), said they are adamant that such weapons should not be spread further. 

The Secretary-General praised the awareness of the importance of adhering to bilateral and multilateral nonproliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and obligations. 

Mr. Guterres also emphasized the States’ nuclear disarmament duties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). 

An NPT review that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday has been postponed until August owing to the COVID-19 outbreak. Following the announcement of the postponement, the P5 issued a statement. 

The commitment to seek measures to prevent nuclear war, according to the UN chief, is encouraging and consistent with his long-standing demand for discussion and collaboration. According to the statement, he is looking forward to learning more about future efforts. 

He ended by expressing his commitment to working with all Member States to achieve this goal as soon as possible. 

The development comes after the Secretary- General’s warning at the end of last year about the grave danger posed by the 13,000 nuclear weapons estimated to be held by a few countries. 

Mr. Guterres reiterated that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is still the “main hope” for reversing the global arms race, before calling for bold action on six fronts. 

First, Member States should chart a path forward on nuclear disarmament; second, they should agree on new transparency and dialogue measures; third, they should address “simmering nuclear crises” in the Middle East and Asia; and fourth, they should strengthen existing nonproliferation bodies, such as the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). 

Mr. Guterres also urged countries to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology for medical and other purposes, citing the NPT as one justification for non-nuclear-weapons states’ support. Finally, the world’s population particularly its youth needed to understand that the only way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used is to eliminate them. 

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