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U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia vow to prevent nuclear war

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U.S., Britain, China, France, Russia vow to prevent nuclear war
The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council vowed Monday to avoid nuclear war amid growing tensions. Pool File Photo by John Minchillo/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The nuclear-armed nations of the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia have agreed to avoid nuclear war and to prevent the proliferation of such weapons and an arms race.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council issued the rare joint statement Monday, stating they affirm that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought."

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The statement states the countries affirm that nuclear weapons should be defensive and a deterrent against aggression and war, and that the super powers "believe strongly" the further spread of such munitions must be prevented.

"We underline our desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all," they said.

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"We intend 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 no one and endanger all."

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The statement was released a day before the 91 parties to the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty were to meet in New York to review the document but the conference was postponed last month due to COVID-19-related issues.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters Monday that the statement was prepared on the Kremlin's initiative with its promulgation to be carried out with the treaty's review but "given the importance and self-sufficiency of this joint statement, the nuclear powers decided not to postpone its publication."

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"The statement reflects an important idea for us of inadmissibility between nuclear states of any war -- both nuclear and conventional weapons," she said. "It also reaffirms the commitments of the five countries earlier not to target nuclear weapons at each other or at third countries."

The statement was issued as worries mount that Russia will further invade Ukraine as a Moscow military buildup has been observed at their shared border and amid the growing competition between Washington and Beijing as the latter seeks to expand its influence.

President Joe Biden has warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that there will be consequences if Russian troops invade Kiev, and on Sunday he promised Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky over the phone that the United States and its allies would "respond decisively" if they did.

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Without mentioning the situation, Zakharova said that they hope the statement "will help reduce international tensions and deter the arms race, contribute to confidence-building and the formation of the foundations for future control over offensive and defensive weapons."

In China, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu told reporters that it was the first time the leaders of the five nations have issued such a statement, and that it shows Beijing's will to prevent nuclear war and prevent the risk of nuclear conflict.

"The statement also helps the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council enhance mutual trust and replace great-power competition with coordinated cooperation," he said. "The five countries should take the joint statement as a new starting point, increase mutual trust, strengthen cooperation and play an active role in building a world of lasting peace and universal security."

Concerning the rescheduling of the 10th review conference on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, the conference's president designate, Gustavo Zlauvinen, said in a letter dated Thursday that he will request for it to be held Aug. 1 to 26 and that he intends to hold informal consultations with all parties in the coming weeks.

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