Biden, Putin strike conciliatory tones as N-talks start at UN

Within days of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Putin put the country’s deterrence forces on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow…reports Asian Lie News

President Joe Biden said on Monday he is ready to pursue a new nuclear arms deal with Russia and called on Moscow to act in good faith as his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said there could be no winners in any nuclear war.

Both leaders issued written statements as diplomats gathered for a month-long UN conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). It was supposed to have taken place in 2020, but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It occurs at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the conference. “Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

He warned that crises “with nuclear undertones are festering,” citing the Middle East, North Korea and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Within days of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion, Putin put the country’s deterrence forces — which include nuclear arms — on high alert, citing what he called aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow.

But in a letter to participants at the NPT review conference, Putin wrote: “There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community.”

Arms control has traditionally been an area in which global progress has been possible despite wider disagreements. The UN conference takes place five months after Russia invaded Ukraine and as US-China tensions flare over Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by Beijing.

Moscow and Washington last year extended their New START treaty, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits the land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them, until 2026.

“My Administration is ready to expeditiously negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” Biden said. “But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith.”

“Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States,” he said.

But Russia’s mission to the United Nations questioned if the United States was ready to negotiate, accusing Washington of withdrawing from talks with Moscow on strategic stability over the Ukraine conflict.

“It is high time Washington made up its mind, stopped rushing around, and told us frankly what it is that they want – escalate the situation in the area of international security or embark on equal negotiations,” Russia’s UN mission said in a statement.

Biden also called on China “to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the UN conference that Washington was committed to seeking a comprehensive risk reduction package that would include secure communications channels among nuclear weapon states.

“We stand ready to work with all partners, including China and others, on risk reduction and strategic stability efforts,” he said.

Blinken also said a return to the 2015 nuclear deal remains the best outcome for the United States, Iran and the world, and again accused North Korea of preparing for a seventh nuclear test.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged all nuclear states to conduct themselves “responsibly.” Kishida is from Hiroshima, which on Aug. 6, 1945, became the first city in the world to suffer a nuclear bombing.

“The world is worried that the threat of the catastrophe of use of nuclear weapons has emerged once again,” he told the conference. “It must be said that the path to a world without nuclear weapons has suddenly become even harder.”

Nuclear war must never be fought: Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and must never be fought.

He made the remarks on Monday in his greeting to the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

“We believe that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it must never be fought; we advocate equal and inseparable security for all members of the international community,” TASS News Agency quoted the President as saying.

Putin said that Russia as signatory to the NPT consistently followed its letter and spirit.

“Our obligations under bilateral agreements with the United States on the reduction and limitation of relevant weapons have also been fulfilled.”

The Russian leader stressed that “we are convinced that all NPT-compliant countries should have the right of access to civilian nuclear power without any additional terms whatsoever”.

“We are ready to share with the partners our experience in the field of nuclear energy,” he added.

In conclusion, Putin said that Russia hopes this conference will make a significant contribution to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime to ensure peace, security and stability in the world, Xinhua news agency reported.

The NPT Review Conference is held once in five years. The 10th one was to be held in New York in May 2020, it was delayed due to the Covid pandemic and rescheduled for August 1-26, 2022.

The NPT was signed in 1968 and legitimised the nuclear arsenals of the US, UK, China, Russia, and France.

Other states, by signing the document, are stripped of the right to create or acquire weapons of mass destruction.

More than 190 countries are now parties to the treaty.

While Israel, India and Pakistan remain outside the treaty, North Korea withdrew from the agreement in 2003.

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