Photo Credit: UN Women
In a rare joint statement, the five permanent members of the UN Security council (the US, Russia, China, the UK, and France) pledged to address to “create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament” and avoid nuclear conflict.
“As the use of nuclear arms would have far-reaching consequences, we also confirm that nuclear arms – as long as they exist – should serve defensive aims, deterrence against aggression and prevention of war” the statement maintained.
The five states are also the five nuclear weapons states recognised by the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The statement comes as there is escalating tension between the West and Russia over security concerns relating to Ukraine and with China, given China’s aggressive posture towards Taiwan. Responding to these threats the Biden administration has imposed sanctions on China over its treatment of Uighurs and warned Russia of further sanctions if it invades Ukraine.
In December, Chinese President Xi Jingping and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a virtual conference in which they sought to “more effectively safeguard the security interests of both parties”.
The New York Times writes that both leaders discussed forming an “independent financial infrastructure” to reduce their reliance on Western banks and their vulnerability to punitive measures from the West.
Responding to the joint statement, Moscow’s foreign ministry stated “We hope that, in the current difficult conditions of international security, the approval of such a political statement will help reduce the level of international tensions”.
The statement affirmed members commitments to “strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorized or unintended use of nuclear weapons” and “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”.
The statement concluded stating:
“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”.
Read the joint statement here.