Colin Kahl, US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the Biden administration, has warned that four countries oppose eliminating nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon official highlighted nuclear threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
His comments come as an Iranian opposition group said Newsweek that Tehran will not abandon its plans to obtain a nuclear bomb even as talks resumed in Vienna on Friday on the country’s atomic programme.
Kahl said Friday that curbing a nuclear arms race was his toughest since the end of the Cold War.
At the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York, he cited Russia’s rhetoric after its invasion of Ukraine as one of the examples of obstacles to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The NPT is an agreement to prevent the increase of nuclear weapons and to promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
Another obstacle to NPT aspirations, according to Kahl.
He also sounded the alarm over North Korea’s nuclear tests, as well as Iran’s refusal to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal whose former president Donald Trump has withdrawn the United States.
Kahl told the conference on Friday that the United States “recognizes and reaffirms that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” according to a reading of his speech.
He said unclassified versions of the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy (NDS) and Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) should be made public.
They reveal a commitment to provide nuclear deterrence to the United States and its allies, push for arms control agreements, and further discussions among nuclear states to reduce the risk of nuclear war.
He said that while the United States would continue to engage with “other nuclear-weapon states to the extent possible to reduce nuclear risks,” there were “realistic expectations” about how to reduce risk and ensure transparency.
A UN report said North Korea prepared for a nuclear test in the first six months of this year, Reuters reported on Saturday.
UN officials said North Korea was continuing to develop its ability to produce fissile material at its main nuclear facility in Yongbyon amid US warnings that Pyongyang was ready to carry out a seventh nuclear test.
Meanwhile, talks have resumed in Vienna between Iranian and US officials aimed at saving the JCPOA although there are few expectations for a breakthrough.
Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the Paris-based People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, said the regime in Tehran “will not abandon the plan to obtain a nuclear bomb”, regardless of the negotiations.
“It takes firmness to prevent a fundamentalist and terrorist dictatorship from being equipped with nuclear weapons,” Gobadi said. Newsweek. “UN Security Council resolutions must be reinstated and comprehensive sanctions imposed on the regime.
“Continuing to negotiate… buys the regime time to advance its nuclear project. Negotiations with this regime undermine world peace and security.”
Last month, a video on Iranian state media boasted that Tehran could use its nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), “to turn New York City into ruins and hell in the event of a hostile act by the United States.” “.
Newsweek contacted the defense ministries of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea for comment.