Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called on Russia to honor its nuclear arms control commitments, accused Moscow of “reckless, dangerous rattling of nuclear sabers” as part of its war in Ukraine and warned of the negative impact the war would have on this country. country will have. conference this month to reiterate the importance of nuclear non-proliferation.
In remarks at the start of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the United Nations, the top US diplomat warned that the landmark deal is “under increasing pressure” because of not only Russia’s actions, but also North America’s actions. . Korea and Iran.
Officials acknowledged the challenges Russia’s war in Ukraine will pose at the review conference — which is typically held every five years but has been postponed two due to the coronavirus pandemic — and prospects of all sides agreeing to a consensus paper on its conclusion. the month-long meeting.
In his comments, Blinken noted that in January Russia had joined the other NPT core states — the United States, the United Kingdom, France and China — in a joint statement highlighting the importance of avoiding nuclear war and arms race. , but “the very next month, Russia launched a large-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
“It engages in reckless, dangerous clattering of nuclear sabers, with the president warning that those who support Ukraine ‘risk consequences like you’ve never seen in your entire history,'” Blinken said.
Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned sharply about the importance of the meeting.
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation, away from nuclear destruction,” Guterres said. “We need the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as much as ever. That is why this Review Conference is so important. It is an opportunity to work out the measures that will help prevent a particular disaster.”
Unlike January, only three of the NPT core states — the US, the UK and France — released a joint statement at the beginning of the conference on Monday, calling on Russia “to cease its irresponsible and dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behavior, to to fulfill its international obligations and to once again adhere – in word and deed – to the principles enshrined in the recent statement by the leaders of Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races,” referring to the statement released in January .
Blinken said Russia’s war violates the UN Charter, the rules-based international order and the Budapest Memorandum — the 1994 agreement under which Russia pledged to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and Kiev agreed to lose its nuclear arsenal.
“What message does this send to a country around the world that may think it needs nuclear weapons to protect, defend and deter aggression against its sovereignty and independence? The worst possible message,” he said. “And so it’s directly relevant to what’s happening here at the United Nations this month.”
“Recently we saw Russia’s aggression with the seizure of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhya, the largest of its kind in all of Europe,” Blinken continued. “Russia is now using the plant as a military base to fire at Ukrainians, knowing they cannot and will not fire back because they could accidentally hit a reactor or high-level waste in storage.”
“That takes the idea of a human shield to a very different and horrifying level,” he said.
Blinken contrasted Moscow’s actions with those of the US, which he said were trying to prevent escalation “by forgoing previously scheduled ICBM tests and not raising the alert status of our nuclear forces in response to the chatter of Russian sabers. ”
“There is no place in our world, no place in our world for nuclear deterrence based on coercion, intimidation or blackmail,” he said.
Blinken also called on North Korea for its nuclear provocations, noting that “as we meet today, Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test.”
The top US diplomat said: “Iran remains on a path of nuclear escalation.”
“While it publicly claims to be in favor of returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, since March Iran has been unwilling or unable to accept the deal to achieve exactly that goal,” Blinken said. “Going back to the JCPOA remains the best outcome for the United States, for Iran, for the world.”