NPT: Blinken accuses Russia of ‘reckless and dangerous nuclear saber noise’

Speaking at the start of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations, the top US diplomat warned that the landmark agreement is “under increasing pressure” due not only to Russia’s actions, but also from the countries of the North. Korea and Iran.

Officials have acknowledged the challenges that Russia’s war in Ukraine will present at the review conference, which is usually held every five years but has been pushed back two due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the prospects of all sides agreeing on a consensus document at the conclusion of the month-long meeting.

In his comments, Blinken noted that Russia had joined the other NPT nuclear states – the US, UK, France and China – in a joint statement in January that emphasized the importance of avoiding nuclear war and arms races, but “The following month, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”

“It is engaging in reckless and dangerous nuclear saber rattling, with its president warning that those who support Ukraine’s self-defense ‘risk consequences the likes of which they have never seen in their entire history,'” Blinken said.

Earlier on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a stark warning about the importance of the meeting.

“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” Guterres said. “We need the nuclear non-proliferation treaty more than ever. That is why this Review Conference is so important. It is an opportunity to work out the measures that will help avert certain disaster.”

Unlike in January, only three of the NPT nuclear states — the US. behaviour, to uphold its international commitments and to recommit, in word and deed, to the principles enshrined in the recent leaders’ statement on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races”, referring to the one published 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 Kyiv agreed to give up its arsenal. of nuclear weapons.

“What message does this send to any country in the world that might think they need to have nuclear weapons to protect, defend, deter aggression against their sovereignty and independence? The worst possible message,” he said. “And so it’s directly relevant to what’s happening here this month at the United Nations.”

“More recently, we saw Russia’s aggression with the seizure of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest plant of its kind in all of Europe,” Blinken continued. “Russia is now using the plant as a military base to fire on the Ukrainians, knowing that they cannot and will not return fire because they could accidentally hit a reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage.”

“That takes the notion of having a human shield to a completely different and horrible level,” he said.

Blinken says he had 'frank' conversation with Russian foreign minister in first call since war in Ukraine began

Blinken compared Moscow’s actions to those of the US, which he said has tried to prevent an escalation “by forgoing previously scheduled ICBM tests and not raising the alert status of our nuclear forces in response to Russian saber rattling.” “.

“There is no place in our world, there is no place in our world for nuclear deterrence based on coercion, intimidation or blackmail,” he said.

Blinken also criticized 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 the path of nuclear escalation.”

“While publicly stating that it favors a return to mutual compliance with the JCPOA, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, since March, Iran has been unwilling or unable to accept the agreement to achieve precisely that goal,” Blinken said. “Going back to the JCPOA is still the best outcome for the United States, for Iran, for the world.”

CNN’s Richard Roth and Samantha Beech contributed reporting.

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