By John Ikani
Five of the world’s largest nuclear powers pledged on Monday to work together towards “a world without nuclear weapons” in a rare statement of unity amid rising East-West tensions.
“A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” said the joint statement, which was issued simultaneously by the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France.
“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 statement said.
The statement also stressed the importance of preventing conflict between nuclear-weapon states from escalating, describing it as a “foremost responsibility.”
The statement comes as tensions between Russia and the United States have reached heights rarely seen since the Cold War over a troop build-up by Moscow close to the Ukrainian border.
That has raised fears that the Kremlin is planning a new attack on its pro-Western neighbour.
The rise of China meanwhile under President Xi Jinping has also raised concerns that tensions with Washington could lead to conflict, notably over the island of Taiwan.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
China said the pledge the five nations signed will increase mutual trust’ and reduce the risk of nuclear conflict.
Russia also welcomed the declaration by the atomic powers and expressed hope it would reduce global tensions.
‘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 statement also comes as the world powers seek to reach agreement with Iran on reviving the 2015 deal over its controversial nuclear drive, which was rendered moribund by the US walking out of the accord in 2018.
Washington, which has never ruled out military action against Iran, has repeatedly warned time is running out to agree a deal.