Blinken accuses Russia of nuclear 'sabre rattling'

NEW YORK: Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urged Russia to uphold its nuclear arms control commitments, accusing Moscow of engaging in "reckless, dangerous nuclear sabre rattling" as part of its conflict in Ukraine and expressing concern for the conference this month that will seek to reaffirm the significance of nuclear non-proliferation.

The top US diplomat cautioned that the historic accord is "under increasing strain" as a result of not only Russia's actions but also those of North Korea and Iran in opening remarks at the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

The review conference, which is usually held every five years but was postponed for two because of the coronavirus pandemic, will face challenges as a result of Russia's war in Ukraine, according to officials, who also expressed optimism that all parties will agree on a document at the end of the month-long meeting.

The United States, United Kingdom, France, and China, along with Russia, had issued a joint declaration in January highlighting the need to prevent nuclear war and weapons races, but "the very next month, Russia began a full scale invasion of Ukraine," Blinken said in his speech.

With its president stating that people backing Ukraine's right to self-defense "risk consequences such as you have never seen in your entire history," it is indulging in irresponsible, lethal nuclear sabre rattling, according to Blinken.

At the beginning of the conference on Monday, only three of the NPT nuclear states (US, UK, and France) issued a joint statement, as opposed to all five in January. In it, they urged Russia to "cease its irresponsible and dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour, to uphold its international commitments, and to recommit in words and deeds to the principles enshrined in the recent Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races Leaders.

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