Argentina debates the global race for nuclear weapons

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, added to the growing tension between the United States and China, increases the probability that nuclear weapons will multiply and the possibility of their use is already a latent threat. This is discussed at the UN, where Argentina warned about an arms race not only in countries that increase their budgets in this area year after year, but also about the possibility that other states that until now did not have weapons, join.

Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the arms race was already underway. Since 2015, spending has grown and, between 2020 and 2021, a record US$4 billion was spent on weapons. Earlier this year, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council spoke out against the proliferation of such weapons, stating that “a nuclear war cannot be won and should never be fought.” These are China, the United States, France, Russia and the United Kingdom which, despite this pronouncement, have an inventory of 12,270 nuclear warheads out of a total of 12,705 and modernize their nuclear arsenals every year.

This goes against the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which came into force in 1970 with the aim of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting nuclear disarmament. It is made up of 191 states, of which only five countries have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom.

At the last summit (2015) where this treaty was put up for discussion, there was no agreement on substantive issues, so this year this forum is key to once again promoting disarmament. The war in Ukraine and Russia’s allusions to its atomic capacity to dissuade any country that considers intervening in that conflict reignited the debate on nuclear weapons. The tension between the United States and China also arouses concern around the world. To the escalation of the conflict between the two countries after Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, there is an exchange in May of this year when Beijing described Washington as “the greatest source of nuclear threat in the world” in response to the versions spread by the US about an alleged Chinese atomic threat.

According to the Federation of American Scientists nuclear weapons inventory, Russia has 5,977; United States 5,428; Chinese 350; France 290; the UK 225; Pakistan 165; Indian 160; Israel ninety; and North Korea twenty.

In this discussion that is now taking place at the UN, Argentina considers that weapons of mass destruction constitute one of the main sources of threats to world stability. At the opening of the tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero called for greater commitment from the nuclear weapon states. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changed the international scene and high world leaders began to talk about a Third World War. However, the arms race had been going on for some time. Today the invasion of Ukraine can function as a justification for countries without nuclear weapons to want to try it. The uncomfortable questions we must ask ourselves are whether we are at the dawn of a new cycle of an arms race, of proliferation of nuclear weapons, whether we are about to go from temptation to impulse,” Cafiero said in Washington. On August 26, the final statement and the possibility of a new agreement are expected.

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