The Russian chairmanship in P5 can be used to maintain this format and ensure the mutual communication of important signals while confirming the readiness of all those involved to look for ways to reduce strategic risks, as well as de-escalate and reduce tensions in relations between nuclear powers without trying to score fleeting political points, writes Dmitry Stefanovich.
In August 2023, the chairmanship in the informal group of nuclear states (according to the NPT), known as the “Nuclear Five” (P5), passes from the United States to Russia. The PrepCom of the NPT Review Conference, held in Vienna, has become a conditional symbol of this transition; it has demonstrated serious contradictions both within the P5 and between nuclear and non-nuclear countries.
It seems appropriate to assess the achievements of this format, as well as the prospects for its development, especially given that, by happy coincidence, its composition completely coincides with the composition of the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Looking ahead, we note that the key achievement of the P5 has been the preservation in itself of the efficiency of this format, given the current crisis in international military-political relations, primarily between Russia and the West.
In addition to the very creation of such a format over the past years, the P5 have managed to achieve several notable “material“ results.
Perhaps the most important achievement of the nuclear five was the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races of January 3, 2022.
Reaffirming the common understanding that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” remains an important factor in demonstrating the responsible attitude of these countries regarding nuclear issues. The statement also contains positive signals in terms of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, as well as the non-targeting of nuclear weapons of the five countries at one another, or at other countries.
The key point of the statement is the emphasis on “the avoidance of war between Nuclear-Weapon States” as a key task. At the same time, specific tools for such a prevention, as well as “strategic risk reduction” require additional elaboration, which, as far as one can judge, the “nuclear five” is actively engaged in.