UN Chief: We're a Step Away From 'Nuclear Annihilation'

Antonio Guterres calls on nations to reaffirm Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 2, 2022 5:53 AM CDT
Updated Aug 2, 2022 6:48 AM CDT
UN Chief Warns 'Nuclear Danger' Is Real
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, left, H.E. Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen, center is seen during the 2022 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, in the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.   (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

The United Nations chief warned the world Monday that "humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation." Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave the dire warning at the opening of the long-delayed high-level meeting to review the landmark 50-year-old treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eventually achieving a nuclear-free world, per the AP. He cited especially the war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear weapons to conflicts in the Middle East and Asia, two regions "edging towards catastrophe."

Guterres told many ministers, officials, and diplomats attending the month-long conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that the meeting is taking place "at a critical juncture for our collective peace and security" and "at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War." The conference is "an opportunity to hammer out the measures that will help avoid certain disaster, and to put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons," the secretary-general said. But Guterres warned that "geopolitical weapons are reaching new highs"—almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are in arsenals around the world, and countries seeking "false security" are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on "doomsday weapons."

"All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening," he said, "And when crises—with nuclear undertones—are festering from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula to Russia's invasion of Ukraine." Guterres called on conference participants to take several actions: urgently reinforce and reaffirm "the 77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons," work relentlessly toward the elimination of nuclear weapons with new commitments to reduce arsenals, address "the simmering tensions in the Middle East and Asia," and promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology. (See President Biden's statement ahead of the conference here.)

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