Photo: NPT Prepcom 2019. Credit: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS). - Photo: 2020

Five Nuclear Weapon States Pledge Commitment to NPT

By J C Suresh

WASHINGTON, DC (IDN) — Five permanent members (P5) of the UN Security Council – USA, China, France, Russia and Britain – who together possess an overwhelming majority of 13,865 nuclear weapons have pledged “unstinting commitment to preserving and deepening … for future generations” the legacy of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

A joint statement by Foreign Ministers of the five countries on the 50th anniversary of the entering into force of the NPT on March 5, 2020 says “we celebrate the immeasurable contributions this landmark treaty has made to the security and prosperity of the nations and peoples of the world.”

While reaffirming their “commitment to the NPT in all its aspects”, the five Foreign Ministers say: “The NPT has provided the essential foundation for international efforts to stem the looming threat – then and now – that nuclear weapons would proliferate across the globe. In so doing, it has served the interests of all its Parties.”

The five Foreign Ministers are: Wang Yi, State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of China; Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France; Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of Britain and Northern Ireland; Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State of the U.S.

The Foreign Ministers adds: “We also celebrate the astonishingly diverse benefits of the peaceful uses of the atom, whether for electricity, medicine, agriculture, or industry. We reiterate our strong support for broadening access to the benefits of nuclear energy and its applications for peaceful purpose. This boon to humanity thrives because the NPT, and the nuclear nonproliferation regime built around the Treaty, has helped provide confidence that nuclear programs are and will remain entirely peaceful.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) plays a critical role in NPT implementation, both to promote the fullest possible cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to apply safeguards and verify that nuclear programs are entirely peaceful, they point out.

“An IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement together with an Additional Protocol provide credible assurances of the absence of undeclared nuclear activities and should become the universal standard for verifying the fulfillment of NPT obligations. We pledge our full and continued support to the IAEA and urge others to do the same,” the joint statement continues.

While the five say that “they remain committed under the NPT to the pursuit of good faith negotiations on effective measures related to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,” there is general agreement that the pursuit of good faith negotiations has been conspicuous by its presence.

The five say they “support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all”. They are convinced that “by helping to ease international tensions and create conditions of stability, security and trust among nations, the NPT has made a vital contribution to nuclear disarmament. The NPT continues to help create conditions that would be essential for further progress on nuclear disarmament”.

They add: “The success of the NPT was not foreordained, nor is its future success guaranteed. It depends on our concerted and sustained efforts to ensure compliance, to promote universalization, to ensure effective safeguards, and to respond to ongoing and emerging proliferation challenges, wherever they occur.”

Furthermore: “Even at the height of the Cold War, our predecessors made this wise investment in our shared security and prosperity. Today, we pledge our unstinting commitment to preserving and deepening this legacy for future generations.”

P5 discussed Arms Control in London

Ahead of the joint statement, officials representing the five permanent members of the UN Security Council discussed a range of arms control issues during a February 11–12 meeting in London in advance of this year’s NPT review conference scheduled to begin on April 27. They were joined by participants from 16 non-nuclear-weapon states to address topics such as nuclear transparency, disarmament, and verification.

According to the Arms Control Association, Thomas Drew, a senior UK Foreign Office official, chaired the conference. Ford led the U.S. delegation, while Leontyev represented Russia and Fu Cong represented China. David Bertolotti, director of strategic affairs, security, and disarmament in the French Foreign Ministry, represented France.

Fu said the nuclear-weapon states are “responsible for strengthening coordination and cooperation and ensuring the success” of the NPT review conference, according to a February 14 statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

He also commented on efforts by the Trump administration to engage Beijing in arms control talks with the United States and Russia. “It is neither fair nor reasonable to encourage the Chinese side to join trilateral arms control negotiations,” he said.

The United States nevertheless continued to press for Chinese participation. “Beijing poses a serious threat to strategic security given the trajectory of its nuclear build-up,” said Robert Wood, U.S. permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, in a February 19 tweet about the meeting. [IDN-InDepthNews – 12 March 2020]

Photo: NPT Prepcom 2019. Credit: James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS).

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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