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Group statement | 6 July 2021

Leadership groups call on China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and United States to jointly reaffirm: “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”

We welcome the leadership shown by President Biden and President Putin in their June 16 Joint Statement on Strategic Stability reaffirming the principle that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” We are encouraged that President Putin and President Xi affirmed the same principle in their June 28 Joint Statement.

This principle is fundamental to ensuring predictability, reducing the risk of armed conflicts and the threat of nuclear war. It provides a foundation for progress to reduce existential common risks, including on the climate and global public health. It is especially important as new technologies reduce decision time for leaders. Such a principle is also at the core of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) whose Preamble recognises “the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples”.

The Permanent Five members of the United Nations Security Council have a particular responsibility to reduce the risks of nuclear war and uphold international peace and security, as the only nuclear weapons states recognised under the NPT.

We call on the P5 heads of government to jointly affirm this simple and powerful formula and provide a vital demonstration of leadership that would strengthen the NPT. We stand ready to support your efforts to move the world in a safer and more hopeful direction.


Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG) Co-Conveners

Lord Des Browne
Vice Chair, Nuclear Threat Initiative; Chair of the Board of Trustees and Directors of the European Leadership Network; and former Secretary of State for Defence, United Kingdom

Ambassador (Botschafter) Professor Wolfgang Ischinger
Chairman (Vorsitzender), Munich Security Conference Foundation, Germany

Professor Igor Ivanov
President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC); and former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Russia

Ernest J. Moniz
Co-Chair and CEO, Nuclear Threat Initiative; and former U.S. Secretary of Energy, United States

Sam Nunn
Co-Chair, Nuclear Threat Initiative; and former U.S. Senator, United States

European Leadership Network (ELN)

Sir Adam Thomson
Director, European Leadership Network, United Kingdom

Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN)

Gareth Evans
Chair, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network; and Former Foreign Minister, Australia

Shata Shetty
Executive Director, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, Australia

The Elders

Mary Robinson
Chair, The Elders; and former President, Ireland

Read the statement in English, French, German and Russian

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network (ELN) or any of the ELN’s members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address pressing foreign, defence, and security challenges.

Image: GPA Photo Archive