Colin Kahl, US Undersecretary for Defense Policy in the Biden administration, has warned that four countries are standing in the way of eliminating nuclear weapons.
The Pentagon official pointed to the nuclear threat posed by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
His comments are coming, an Iranian opposition group said news week Tehran will not abandon its plans to acquire a nuclear bomb, even though talks on the country’s nuclear program resumed in Vienna on Friday.
Kahl said on Friday that containing a nuclear arms race is the greatest challenge since the end of the Cold War.
At the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in New York, he cited Russia’s post-invasion rhetoric in Ukraine as one example of obstacles to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an agreement aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
China’s rapid build-up of its nuclear weapons capabilities and the response to US spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, which was followed by large-scale cross-strait military exercises, presented another obstacle to NPT efforts, 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 from which former President Donald Trump pulled the US out.
Kahl told the conference on Friday that the US “recognises and affirms that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” according to a reading of his speech.
He said the unclassified versions of the Pentagon‘s National Defense Strategy (NDS) and Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) should be released.
They reveal a commitment to providing a nuclear deterrent for the US and its allies, a push for arms control agreements and further talks between nuclear states to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war.
He said that while the US would continue to work with “other nuclear-armed states, where possible, to reduce nuclear risks,” there were “realistic expectations” of how risks could be reduced and transparency created.
According to a UN report, North Korea has been preparing for a nuclear test for the first six months of this year, Reuters reported on Saturday.
UN officials said North Korea is continuing to develop its fissile material production capability at its large Yongbyon nuclear facility, while the US warned that Pyongyang is poised to conduct a seventh nuclear test.
Meanwhile, talks aimed at salvaging the JCPOA have resumed in Vienna between Iranian and US officials, although expectations of a breakthrough are slim.
Shahin Gobadi, spokesman for the Paris-based organization of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran, said the Tehran regime “will not abandon the project to obtain a nuclear bomb” regardless of the negotiations.
“Strength is required to prevent a fundamentalist and terrorist dictatorship from being armed with nuclear weapons,” Gobadi said news week. “UN Security Council resolutions must be reinstated and comprehensive sanctions imposed on the regime.
“Continuing to negotiate … allows the regime to buy time to move forward with its nuclear project. Negotiations with this regime undermine world peace and security.”
Last month, a video in Iranian state media boasted that Tehran could use its nuclear-capable ICBMs “to reduce New York to ruin and hell in the event of a hostile US act.”
news week has asked the defense ministries of China, Russia, Iran and North Korea for comments.