On Monday the leaders of five nuclear-armed states, the US, UK, France, Russia and China, issued a joint statement which declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. This is a sentiment which has been repeated many times over the years, first espoused by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev during a summit in 1985 which lead to the agreement of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
This is the first time that the principle has been agreed by all five states, the only five in the world who are both nuclear-armed and part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The statement came as the latest NPT Review Conference was again delayed due to Covid. It is now scheduled to take place in August – more than two years late. Many non-nuclear states have grown frustrated with the apparent lack of willingness of the five states involved in the statement to take their commitments under the NPT seriously.
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
We pray that this statement, which we welcome, will be the first step towards reinvigorating the process of disarmament of the NPT. Around the world nuclear weapons have been in the spotlight as states continue to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons while nuclear-armed states continue to upgrade and expand nuclear arsenals.
Christian CND will be joining others in pressing the UK government to ensure that the words of the statement are translated into actions for disarmament and peace around the world.