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World powers vow to prevent spread of nuclear weapons

PARIS (AFP) – Five global nuclear powers pledged yesterday to prevent atomic weapons spreading and to avoid nuclear conflict, in a rare joint statement ahead of a review of a key nuclear treaty later this year.

“We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” said permanent United Nations (UN) Security Council members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US), adding: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

The statement was issued after the latest review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – which first came into force in 1970 – was postponed from its scheduled date of January 4 to later in the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putting aside current differences that have caused major tensions between Russia and its Western partners, the five world powers said they saw “the avoidance of war between nuclear-weapon states and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost responsibilities”.

“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,” they said according to the English text released by the White House.

The powers added: “We each intend to maintain and further strengthen our national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons.”

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile test launch at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. PHOTOS: AP
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