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The P5 pledge to avoid nu­clear war should be cel­e­brat­ed

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On January 3, leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states (the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, collectively known as P5) issued a joint statement on “preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms races”.

The statement, which came after the third COVID-19 related postponement of the much-anticipated 10th Review Conference (RevCon) of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), was significant for several reasons.

“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” the leaders agreed in the statement, echoing a landmark declaration by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev at a 1985 summit in Geneva. The US, Russia and China had already reaffirmed the Reagan-Gorbachev declaration on various occasions in recent years. The UK and France, however, arguing that affirming the pledge could undermine the deterrence value of their nuclear arsenal, have long resisted doing so. France, which has a nuclear doctrine under which it reserves the right to use tactical nuclear weapons against aggressors as a “final warning”, was especially resistant. Thus, France and the UK agreeing to the inclusion of this pledge in the joint statement was a major development.

In the statement, the five leaders also listed nuclear risk reduction as one of their “foremost responsibilities”. This was likely in response to the efforts of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament, which was launched in 2019 by 16 non-nuclear-weapon states with the aim of promoting “a successful outcome of the 10th Review Conference of the NPT through building political support for a pragmatic and result-oriented nuclear disarmament agenda”.

In 2020, to mark the 50th anniversary of the NPT, members of the Stockholm Initiative adopted a set of proposals or “stepping stones” that........

© Al Jazeera

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