Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Playing with fire

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons: Playing with fire
On July 7, the work on the draft Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (PNW) was completed in New York. Russia considers this treaty as counterproductive and potentially dangerous.

It brings humanity no closer to a world free of nuclear weapons and threatens to damage the existing nonproliferation regimes.

The international community has already created universal mechanisms, based on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which allows a gradual cut in nuclear arsenals. At the same time, it provides for the strengthening of international stability and ensuring equal security for all states, including non-nuclear. We are convinced the NPT contains all the necessary provisions in this sphere that must be applied consistently.

The authors of the PNW present it as a valuable contribution to the NPT implementation, while it runs counter to a number of the NPT provisions. We are primarily concerned about Article 18 of the PNW, which allows the participating states to meet only those obligations that are consistent with the new treaty. Therefore, a dangerous precedent can be set, thus undermining the existing mechanisms of nonproliferation and disarmament. Article 17, which criticizes the nuclear powers for reliance on their nuclear weapons as a tool of ensuring their national security, could provide a loophole for non-nuclear states to get access to nuclear weapons under the pretext of a "threat to the supreme interests of the country."

It is also obvious to us that the PNW, prepared in a hurry, contains a number of provisions that may damage the nonproliferation regime, which is the cornerstone of the entire international security system. We call upon all states to weigh all the pros and cons once again before deciding to join the PNW.


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