Biden and Putin hit conciliatory tones as UN nuclear arms talks begin

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the South Courtroom of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House in Washington, US, July 28, 2022. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday he was ready to pursue a new nuclear weapons deal with Russia and called on Moscow to act in good faith as his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, said there could be no winners. No nuclear war.

The two leaders issued written statements as diplomats gathered for a month-long United Nations conference to review the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It was supposed to happen in 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is happening at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the conference. “Humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

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He warned that crises “of a nuclear nature are getting worse”, citing the war in the Middle East, North Korea and Russia in Ukraine.

Within days of the Russian invasion on February 24, Putin put the country’s deterrent forces – which include nuclear weapons – on high alert, citing what he described as aggressive statements by NATO leaders and Western economic sanctions against Moscow.

But in a letter to the participants of the NPT Review Conference, Putin wrote: “There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be launched, and we defend equal and indivisible security for all members of the international community.” Read more

Arms control has always been an area in which global progress has been possible despite broader controversies. The UN conference is taking place five months after Russia invaded Ukraine and as tensions flare between the United States and China over Taiwan, the self-governing island claimed by Beijing. Read more

Time Washington “Making Its Mindset”

Moscow and Washington last year extended the New START treaty, which limits the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits missiles, land-based bombers and submarines to deliver them, until 2026.

“My administration is prepared to urgently negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New Start when it expires in 2026,” Biden said. But negotiation requires a willing partner who acts in good faith.”

“Russia must demonstrate its willingness to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States,” he said.

But Russia’s mission to the United Nations questioned whether the United States was ready to negotiate and accused Washington of withdrawing from talks with Moscow on strategic stability over the conflict in Ukraine.

“The time has come to decide on Washington’s position, stop rushing, and tell us frankly what they want – to escalate the situation in the field of international security or to start equal negotiations,” the Russian mission to the United Nations said in a statement.

Biden also called on China to “enter into talks that would reduce the risks of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.”

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told the UN conference that Washington was committed to seeking a comprehensive package to reduce risks that would include secure channels of communication between the nuclear-weapon states.

“We are ready to work with all partners, including China and others, on risk reduction and strategic stability efforts,” he said.

Blinken also said that returning to the 2015 nuclear deal remains the best outcome for the United States, Iran and the world, and once again accused North Korea of ​​preparing for a seventh nuclear test. Read more

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged all nuclear states to act “responsibly”. Kishida of Hiroshima, which on August 6, 1945 became the first city in the world to be subjected to a nuclear bombardment. Read more

He said at the conference that “the world is concerned about the emergence of the danger of a catastrophic use of nuclear weapons again.” “It must be said that the path to a world free of nuclear weapons has suddenly become more difficult.”

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(Additional reporting by Susan Heffy and Simon Lewis in Washington and Mark Trevelyan in London.) Editing by Grant McCall and Leslie Adler

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