<<The year 2022 has been a nightmare for nuclear disarmament. The year
started out with a mildly reassuring Joint Statement by the five original
nuclear-armed states, issued on January 3, 2022, declaring:

“The People’s Republic of China, the French Republic, the Russian
Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and
the United States of America consider the avoidance of war between
Nuclear-Weapon States and the reduction of strategic risks as our foremost
responsibilities. We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never
be fought.”

But less than two months later Russia launched a brutal war of aggression
on Ukraine, accompanied by a series of veiled and no-so-veiled nuclear
threats, raising concerns about the dangers of nuclear war to their highest
level since the darkest days of the Cold War. And prospects for progress on
nuclear disarmament went down from there.

The January 3 Joint Statement also avowed: “We remain committed to our
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article
VI obligation ‘to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures
relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to
nuclear disarmament…’.”

However, more than 50 years after the NPT entered into force, their
behaviour points in the opposite direction. All of the nuclear-armed
states, including the four outside the NPT (India, Israel, Pakistan, and
North Korea) are engaged in costly programs to qualitatively upgrade and in
some cases quantitatively increase their nuclear arsenals.

The 10th NPT Review Conference, which took place in August, was an abject
failure, not because it couldn’t agree on a final outcome document, but
because the nuclear-armed states haven't made good on their fundamental
nuclear disarmament obligation under Article VI of the Treaty, nor on the
promises and commitments to action items that would lead to nuclear
disarmament they agreed to in connection with the indefinite extension of
the Treaty in 1995 and in the 2000 and 2010 final documents.

Despite the reassuring-sounding words in the Joint Statement, that “We
intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches
to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability,
increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that
would benefit none and endanger all,” the reality is that a new nuclear
arms race is already underway—compounded by offensive cyber capabilities,
artificial intelligence, developing hypersonic capacities, a return to
intermediate-range delivery systems, and the production of delivery systems
capable of carrying either conventional or nuclear payloads.

In September and October, while our attention was focused on the U.S.
midterm election results and Russia’s continuing nuclear threats in
Ukraine, alarming developments were taking place on the Korean peninsula,
where North Korea conducted a flurry of missile tests.

According to North Korea's state news agency, these tests simulated
showering South Korea with tactical nuclear weapons, as a warning in
response to large-scale navy drills by South Korean and U.S. forces.

As the year wore on, negotiations on reviving the Iran nuclear deal
stalled. And as Iran increased its uranium enrichment, the foreign minister
of Saudi Arabia declared, “If Iran gets an operational nuclear weapon, all
bets are off.”

Against this volatile backdrop, ten months into the Russian war in Ukraine,
the Biden administration released the unclassified version of its Nuclear
Posture Review (NPR), which doubles down on the centrality of nuclear
deterrence—the threatened use of nuclear weapons—in U.S. national security

(Excerpted from: <

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