Nuclear arms control must be balanced

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By Hu Yumin 

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council which are also the largest nuclear powers pledged on Monday to work together to prevent a nuclear war, avoid arms races and prevent nuclear proliferation. A joint statement issued simultaneously by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States said “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”, stressing that reducing strategic risks is their “foremost responsibility”.

“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,” the joint statement said, and called on 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”.

Goal is to protect global security

The five permanent UN Security Council members have come together to play a constructive role in safeguarding global security, and the Security Council has kept in pace with the times since 1992 when China and France signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The five countries have also contributed to several nonproliferation negotiations including the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1996, provided security guarantee to persuade Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus to give up their nuclear weapons programs and, as permanent members of the Security Council, opposed the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998.

While all the five nuclear powers have encountered increasing challenges, the US became an uncertain factor in global security during the Donald Trump administration. Despite the efforts of other countries to regularize communication for the review of the NPT, Trump tried his best to cripple the international arms control and nuclear nonproliferation system, by pulling the US out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019 and the Open Skies Treaty in 2020.

In 2018, as “specially affected states” and “persistent objectors”, the five states opposed the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, insisting that the Non-Proliferation Treaty be maintained as the cornerstone of the nonproliferation system.

Crucial global meeting to be held in March

Yet in spite of the cooperation among the five states, the differences among them and some radical non-nuclear states grabbed headlines. Therefore, the first meeting of the parties to the TPNW will be held in Vienna in March to resolve the differences and discuss the goals to be realized in the next decade.

In March 2020, on the 50th anniversary of the NPT, foreign ministers of the five nuclear powers reiterated their faith in the treaty, saying they are committed to fulfilling their obligations, strengthening the NPT mechanism, and making efforts to strike a balance between preventing nuclear proliferation and using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The Joe Biden administration has reversed many of Trump’s unilateral decisions. Since his inauguration in 2021, Biden has extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia for five years, making the two nuclear superpowers a part of the arms control regime again. The Biden administration has also resumed negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal and offered talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions.

-The Daily Mail-China Daily News Exchange Item