Five global nuclear powers have pledged to prevent atomic weapons from spreading and to ensure a nuclear war is never fought, in a rare joint statement ahead of a review of a key nuclear treaty later this year.
The statement on Monday said that the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, China and France – who are the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – consider it their primary responsibility to avoid war between the nuclear states and to reduce strategic risks, while aiming to work with all countries to create an atmosphere of security.
“We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” it said, adding, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
The Russian-language version of the statement read, “We declare there could be no winners in a nuclear war, it should never be started.
“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.”
Russia hopes the pledge will reduce world tensions, while saying a summit of permanent UN Security Council members remains necessary.
“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,” Moscow’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the RIA Novosti news agency that Moscow still considered a summit between the world’s major nuclear powers to be “necessary”.
The foreign ministry also said it hoped the agreement will “help build confidence and form the foundations of future control over offensive and defensive arms”.
France also released the statement, underscoring that the five powers reiterated their determination for nuclear arms control and disarmament. They would continue bilateral and multilateral approaches to nuclear arms control, it said.
China said the pledge will “increase mutual trust” and reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.
“The joint statement issued by the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon states will help increase mutual trust and replace competition among major powers with coordination and cooperation,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu as saying.
Tensions between Russia and the West have sky-rocketed in recent months over Ukraine, with the US and its allies warning Moscow of a massive coordinated sanctions response if it invades its ex-Soviet neighbour.