Five Major Nuclear Powers Issue Statement on War Avoidance

On Jan. 3, 2022, the heads of state and government of five nuclear weapons states, which are also the permanent members of the UN Security Council, issued a declaration stating, for the first time, that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. It further declares that nuclear weapons should only “serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war”, and their spread must be prevented.

The five world leaders express the intent to “continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all.”

Coming amidst dangerously growing tensions between NATO on the one side and Russia and China on the other, this concertation among the leaders of the five powers is a welcome development. It was preceded by a 50 minute phone call between Presidents Biden and Putin on Dec. 30. Hopefully, this initiative will contribute to reining in the furious attempts by the “war party”, otherwise known as the expanded military-industrial complex, to provoke armed conflicts and war over Ukraine or Taiwan.

This spirit should in any case inform the three discussions scheduled to take place as of next week to discuss security concerns raised by Russia. On Jan. 10, high-level Russian and American officials will meet in Geneva for bilateral talks on arms control and Ukraine, followed two days later by a NATO-Russia Council meeting, and then on Jan. 13, by discussions between Russian representatives and the Organization for Security and Coooperation in Europe. Talks should also take place on Jan. 6 on Ukraine with French, German and Russian officials.

Such diplomacy comes none too late. The publication by Russia on Dec. 17 of two proposed draft treaties, one with the United States, and the other with NATO, was followed by a barrage of warnings from Moscow (cf. SAS 51–52/21) In an interview Rossiya-1 TV on Dec. 26, Vladimir Putin explained why his government was demanding security guarantees from the West. “I want everyone both in our country and abroad, our partners to clearly understand: the matter is not in a line we don’t want anyone to cross. The matter is that we have nowhere to step back.” He stressed, “They have driven us to such a line, excuse my language, that we have nowhere to move.” He was referring to the threat by NATO to deploy new missile systems “at a distance of four to five minutes’ flight to Moscow.

The next step on war avoidance should be a summit of the heads of state and government of the same five permanent members of the Security Council, as our newsletter and the Schiller Institute have called for for two years now, since January 2020, and the escalation of tensions at the time.

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