P-5 Joint Nuclear Statement

Context:

  • On 3 January 2022, all the five permanent members (P-5) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) issued a joint statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms race.
  • Incidentally, these five countries are also the nuclear weapon countries recognised by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has divided the world into Nuclear Weapons States and Non-Nuclear Weapons States on the basis of a cut-off date.

 

Background:

  • Three of the P-5 countries are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). US has been directing the philosophy of the alliance.
  • The United Kingdom (UK) and France, generally, supported the core nuclear issues of the NATO-led by the US.
  • China, which was close to both socialist and capitalist blocs during the Cold War, is now trying to emerge as an atypical actor of the global nuclear system. Its nuclear stockpile is growing and so is its aggressive behaviour. All the arms control efforts by Russia and the US would be meaningless if China is not a part of it.
  • In Europe, NATO and Russia are at loggerheads over Ukraine. China’s aggressive behaviour is creating a warlike situation in the entire Asia.

 

About:

  • In reality, we may agree that nuclear taboo has been existing since the last use of nuclear weapons.
  • There were some instances, in which the possibility of nuclear exchange had increased.
  • Basically, the idea that nuclear weapon is not an ordinary weapon prevented a war/nuclear exchange.
  • Quite significantly, even when the nuclear weapons countries did not expect any reprisal, they still abstained from the use of nuclear weapons.
  • The P-5 joint statement has basically reiterated the already existing norm against the use of nuclear weapons.

 

 

China Factor:

  • China is the only P-5 country that has a declared No First Use (NFU) policy, though an element of uncertainty as well as credibility clouds the Chinese NFU declaration.
  • But China is complicating the puzzle further.
  • This is the first and only P-5 country which has not declared its nuclear arsenals.
  • The way it is aggressively modernising its military, including nuclear, has left the whole world except a few countries such as Pakistan and North Korea extremely worried.
  • Yet, China seeks a refuge in the large arsenals of Russia and the US.
  • Eventually, defence and deterrence are nothing but tools to perpetuate the nuclear weapons oligopoly of P-5 countries

 

Way Forward:

  • On other issues, the P-5 countries need to show some progress and provide a road-map to the world.
  • It is difficult to expect doctrinal changes in the near future.
  • China will continue its nuclear modernisation and proliferation behaviour, and at the same time, it will continue to talk about NFU and project itself as an important stakeholder of the global nuclear system and order.
  • P-5 countries are showing some seriousness regarding nuclear risk, including accidental and unauthorised nuclear use.
  • They have submitted some working papers over the years.

 

Source The Hindu

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