5 Nuclear Powers Renew Vow to Destroy Weapons No New Plans Offered for Disarmament

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UNITED NATIONS -- Five nuclear powers pledged their "unequivocal commitment" yesterday to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, but they gave no time frame or new ideas to achieve the goal.

In a joint statement issued at a conference reviewing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain reaffirmed their support for the treaty and backed negotiations for other disarmament efforts.

Arms control groups and countries without nuclear weapons dismissed the statement, however, saying it didn't go far enough and was issued only to assuage the criticism of the five countries' disarmament records that has been mounting since the conference began last week.

The treaty, which went into force in 1970, commits the five countries to pursue disarmament while barring non-nuclear weapons states from obtaining nuclear arms.

Countries that don't have nuclear arsenals have complained that the nuclear powers haven't conducted good-faith negotiations toward the treaty's ultimate goal of a nuclear weapon-free world.

The five are "using buzzwords of 'unequivocal commitment' in the hopes that no one notices that they're not committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons any time soon," said Rebecca Johnson, editor of Disarmament Diplomacy, a monthly arms control journal.

She nevertheless said it was astonishing that the five countries were able to agree to a joint declaration at all considering the vast divisions among them.

The statement only covered the first five nuclear powers, not India and Pakistan, which exploded nuclear devices in 1998, or Israel, which is believed to have nuclear capabilities. …