On 3 January 2022, the leaders of five nuclear-weapons States — the US, Russia, China, UK, and France, also known as the P5 — issued a joint statement on preventing a nuclear war and avoiding the ongoing global arms race.
The joint statement makes all the right noises. First, it considers the avoidance of war among the nuclear-weapons States and the reduction of strategic risks as its foremost responsibility. Second, for the first time, these nuclear powers have, in unison, affirmed that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. But in the same breath, they uphold the necessity of nuclear weapons for defensive purposes to deter aggression and prevent war.
Third, they reaffirm their commitment to Article VI of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Fourth, they commit themselves to strengthening national measures to prevent unauthorised or unintended use of nuclear weapons and avoid their usage. Lastly, and perhaps the most promising, is the underlining of the desire to create a secure environment that is more conducive for disarmament through the pursuit of constructive dialogues.