Five Nuclear-weapon States Hold a Formal Conference in Beijing

On January 30, 2019, the formal conference among the five nuclear-weapon states (also the five permanent members (P5) of the United Nations (UN) Security Council) was held in Beijing. Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun attended the opening ceremony and chaired the conference. Director of Strategic, Security and Disarmament Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nicolas Roche of France, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov of Russia, Political Director General of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Philip Barton of the United Kingdom (UK) and Under Secretary of State Andrea Thompson of the United States (US) respectively headed delegations to attend the conference.

China, France, Russia, the UK and the US, as the nuclear-weapon states designated by the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), formed the five nuclear-weapon states mechanism as a coordination mechanism during the review process of the NPT, and the five states have maintained regular communication on important issues concerning strategy and security since 2009, jointly promoting the review process of the NPT.

It is the first time for the five nuclear-weapon states to hold a formal conference after a two-year interval. Centering on the theme of “Strengthening P5 Coordination, Safeguarding NPT Regime”, representatives of the five states carried out in-depth and candid communication on nuclear policies and strategies, nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and other issues. Zhang Jun, on behalf of the Chinese side, the current rotating coordinator of the five nuclear-weapon states cooperation mechanism, made chairmanship conclusion remarks after the conference, stressing that all parties have reached three important consensuses:

First, the five nuclear-weapon states committed to sharing responsibility for international peace and security. The five nuclear-weapon states all recognized that the current international security environment faces severe challenges and that maintaining sound relations among major countries is of great importance to the settlement of global strategic problems. They agreed to take an objective view on respective strategic intentions, strengthen exchanges on nuclear policies and strategies, enhance strategic mutual trust and maintain common security, in a bid to spare no effort to prevent nuclear risks that may be caused by misunderstandings and misjudgments.

The five nuclear-weapon states undertook to maintain the existing international arms control system and comply with all international arms control agreements. They reiterated relevant commitments to negative security assurances, including active security and negative security. The five nuclear-weapon states are willing to restart consultation with Southeast Asian countries on the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and continue committing to promoting the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

Second, the five nuclear-weapon states undertook to jointly safeguard the NPT regime. They stressed that the NPT is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and also an essential part of the international security architecture, and undertook to comprehensively and completely implement the NPT and promote its universality.

The five nuclear-weapon states will follow the principle of “undiminished security for all”, promote greater progress in nuclear disarmament, and realize the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons step by step. They believed that the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons deviates from and harms the NPT, and reiterated their stance of unanimous opposition.

The five nuclear-weapon states confirmed that they will do their utmost to solve the nuclear non-proliferation issue through political and diplomatic means, and support the International Atomic Energy Agency in strengthening the safeguard and supervision system under authorization. The five nuclear-weapon states committed to promoting international cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and agreed to strengthen coordination and cooperation in the fields of nuclear safety and nuclear energy security. They also agreed to submit national reports to the 2020 NPT Review Conference, so as to jointly push the Review Conference for a success.

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