China urges largest nuclear states to negotiate a ‘no-first-use’ treaty

The United Nations headquarters building is pictured with a UN logo in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., March 1, 2022. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/ile Photo © Thomson Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) -States with the largest nuclear arsenals should negotiate a treaty on no-first-use of nuclear weapons against each other or make a political statement in this regard, the Chinese foreign ministry’s arms control department said.

Director general of the department, Sun Xiaobo, called on nuclear states to fulfil their “special and priority responsibilities” on nuclear disarmament according to the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, which seeks to prevent nuclear war, official news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

During the forum’s weekly meeting in Geneva on Monday, Sun said the body should define a roadmap or timetable for an international legal instrument that would protect non-nuclear-weapon states from the threat of nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear-weapon states should negotiate and conclude a treaty on no-first-use of nuclear weapons against each other or make a political statement in this regard,” Sun said.

China and India are currently the only two nuclear powers to formally maintain a no first use policy. Russia and the United States have the world’s biggest nuclear arsenals.

Sun also called for a universal, non-discriminatory, non-proliferation, export control order to address global security challenges, and promote more compliance in the field of biochemistry to maintain the authority of the arms control treaty system.

The U.N. disarmament forum should also respond to emerging scientific and technological challenges such as artificial intelligence, outer space and cyber, he said.

Sun described the international strategic security situation as facing new challenges, and that countries with the strongest military power have repeatedly “broken treaties” in order to “seek their own absolute superiority”.

Source: Reuters/Reporting by Liz Lee and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Tom Hogue and Michael Perry