"[The Arms Control Association is an] 'exceptional organization that effectively addresses pressing national and international challenges with an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.'" 

– John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
January 19, 2011
P5 leaders discuss nuclear challenges, emphasize commitment to NPT

Arms Control NOW


P5 members are committed to strengthening nonproliferation efforts around the world. (Photo: U.S. Mission Geneva / Eric Bridiers)In a high-profile panel discussion hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, representatives from the five states recognized by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states (the P5) discussed arms control and the future of strategic stability.

This discussion took place after a P5 Conference in Washington D.C., the seventh in a series that began in 2009.

After the discussion, the P5 released a Joint Statement in which they emphasized their continued support for the NPT.

The P5 committed to working together and with other States Parties to strengthen in a balanced and effective manner each of the NPT’s mutually reinforcing pillars – disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The P5 reaffirmed that the preservation of the integrity of the NPT, achieving its universality and its strict implementation are essential to regional and international peace and security.

Recent lack of progress on nuclear disarmament has led to expressions of frustration from many non-nuclear states and has prompted the emergence of a humanitarian initiative that has sought to increase awareness about the humanitarian and societal consequences of nuclear weapons use. This initiative counts over 120 countries as supporters.

The final report of the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament that took place in Geneva this year recommended the beginning of negotiations next year on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. It is likely that a resolution mandating the beginning of negotiations on such an instrument will be introduced later this month or early next month at the United Nations General Assembly.

At the public Carnegie discussion, Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, commended the work of the United States on arms control and nuclear risk reduction, including the reduction of the U.S. nuclear arsenal through the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), strengthened measures to secure nuclear material, and the negotiation and so far successful implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

She conceded that the United States still has work to do, pointing to its failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as an example 

Fu Cong, the ambassador for disarmament affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, discussed several pressing Chinese security concerns, including the rise of terrorism.

To address these concerns, Ambassador Cong suggested maintaining and strengthening international treaties and using preventative diplomacy to reduce nuclear dangers. He urged militarily advanced countries to exercise restraint and expressed hope that the United States would adopt a “no first use” nuclear declaratory policy.

Peter Jones, director of defense and international security at the United Kingdom Foreign & Commonwealth Office, kept his remarks brief, encouraging the audience to read the 2015 United Kingdom Strategic Defense and Security Review, which provides an analysis of the global security environment and policy responses.

He did note that he was proud of the United Kingdom’s record on arms control and that the international community should make sure that the NPT “continues in good health.”

Vladimir Leontyev, deputy director general for nonproliferation and arms control at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized Russia’s steady nuclear reductions under New START, but argued that the current international security environment is not conducivae to further progress on arms control. He outlined the principle hurdles to disarmament, such as the deployment of global missile defenses by the United States and its allies, the lack of progress on the entry into force of the CTBT, and the growing imbalance in conventional weapons capabilities among nations.

Mr. Leontyev also criticized those non-nuclear-weapon states calling for a new legal instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons for taking the issue of nuclear disarmament out of its historic and legal context.

Nicolas Roche, director of strategic affairs, security and disarmament at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, contended that in a grim security environment, the world must not take for granted the strategic value of the NPT. Mr. Roche emphasized the importance of the NPT, CTBT and the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)

Mr. Roche also stressed that arms control work must extend beyond nuclear reductions to the control of chemical weapons in conflict and small arms, a point echoed by other representatives in the following question and answer session.

In addition to the Joint Statement from the P5 Conference, a Joint Statement on the CTBT was released on the State Department website after the panel.