US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday called on Russia to live up to its nuclear arms control commitments, accusing Moscow of “reckless and dangerous nuclear saber chatter” in its war in Ukraine and warning against the negative impact that war will have on this month’s conference to reaffirm 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 senior US diplomat noted that Russia had joined the other nuclear states of the NPT – the United States , the UK, France and China – in a joint statement in January stressing the importance of avoiding nuclear war and the arms race.
“The following month, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and it engaged in reckless and dangerous nuclear saber slashing, with its president warning that those who support Ukraine’s self-defense , ‘risk consequences like you’ve never seen in all of your history,’ Blinken said.
Blinken said Russia’s war violated the United Nations Charter, the rules-based international order and the Budapest Memorandum, the 1994 agreement under which Russia pledged to respect the sovereignty of the Ukraine and Kyiv have agreed to give up their arsenal of nuclear weapons.
“What message does this send to any country in the world that might think it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself, to defend itself, to deter aggression against its sovereignty and independence? The worst possible message. And so it’s directly related to what’s happening here this month at the United Nations,” he said.
“More recently, we have witnessed Russia’s aggression with its seizure of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the largest such plant 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 might accidentally hit a reactor or stored highly radioactive waste.”
“It takes the notion of having a human shield to a whole different, horrifying level,” he said.
Blinken contrasted Moscow’s actions with those of the United States, which he said sought to avoid escalation “by forgoing previously scheduled ICBM tests and not raising the alert status of our nuclear forces in response. to the sounds 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.