Five nuclear powers commit to elimination of nuclear arms

Posted: Monday, May 01, 2000

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - In a bid to deflect criticism of their nuclear disarmament records, the five recognized nuclear powers pledged today to completely eliminate their nuclear weapons but gave no timeframe or new plans to actually get rid of their arsenals.

In a joint statement, the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain said they were ``unequivocally committed'' to fulfilling the goal of a world free of nuclear arms enshrined in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The statement was issued at a U.N. conference reviewing the treaty, which was already under criticism from disarmament groups as not going far enough.

The group pledged support for international efforts to negotiate a treaty on general disarmament as well as a treaty banning the production of fissile material needed for nuclear warheads.

The statement only covers the original five nuclear powers listed in the treaty and not new nuclear states such as India, Pakistan or Israel.

The five powers have come under intense criticism during the conference for having failed to make progress on nuclear disarmament in the 30 years that the treaty has been in force.

In the treaty, the five pledged to work to eliminate nuclear weapons if countries without nuclear arms promised not to obtain the weapons.

The United States, in particular, has come under severe criticism for its proposals to try to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to build a limited missile defense.

The United States wants to build the system to protect itself against ``rogue states'' such as North Korea.

Russia, China and most countries at the treaty conference have denounced the move, arguing it would undermine one of the basic tenets of arms control and lead to a new arms race.

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