UN Chief: World Is One Misunderstanding And Miscalculation From Nuclear Annihilation

UN Chief: World Is One Misunderstanding And Miscalculation From Nuclear Annihilation

By Chris Williamson- 

UN Chief, Antonio Guterres warned on Monday the world was one  misunderstanding, one miscalculation from  sparking nuclear destruction.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gave the grim 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. Guetteres said the world faced “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War.

The danger of increasing nuclear threats and a nuclear catastrophe was also raised by the United States, Japan, Germany, the U.N. nuclear chief and many other opening speakers at the meeting to review progress and agree to future steps to implement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, known as the NPT.

Citing Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, Guterres said he feared that crises “with nuclear undertones” could escalate.
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” Guterres told the 10th review conference of the NPT, an international treaty that came into force in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.
“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflict,” he added, calling on nations to “put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Treaty
Guterres said the conference was “a chance to strengthen” the treaty and “make it fit for the worrying world around us.
“Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used,” the secretary-general implored, adding that he would visit Hiroshima for the anniversary of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of the Japanese city by the United States.

“Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are now being held in arsenals around the world. All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening,” Guterres added.
In January, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France — had pledged to prevent the further dissemination of nuclear weapons.

On Monday, America, Britain and France reaffirmed their commitment in a joint statement, saying a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
– ‘Need to act’ – The three also took aim at Russia, urging Moscow to respect its international commitments under the NPT.

Dangerous Rhetoric 
“Following Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful war of aggression against Ukraine, we call on Russia to cease its irresponsible and dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour,” they said.

Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the Ukraine conflict is “so grave that the specter of a potential nuclear confrontation, or accident, has raised its terrifying head again.”

He warned that at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant “the situation is becoming more perilous by the day,” and he urged all countries to help make possible his visit to the plant with a team of IAEA safety and security experts, saying his efforts for the past two months have been unsuccessful.

Guterres told many ministers, officials and diplomats gathered in the General Assembly Hall that the month-long review conference is taking place “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 the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.”

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 eliminating nuclear weapons with new commitments to reduce arsenals, address “the simmering tensions in the Middle Est and Asia” and promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

“Future generations are counting on your commitment to step back from the abyss,” he implored the ministers and diplomats. “This is our moment to meet this fundamental test and lift the cloud of nuclear annihilation once and for all.”

Nuclear Arms Control Talks

The statement came as US President Joe Biden called on Russia and China to enter nuclear arms control talks.
The US leader reiterated in a statement that his administration is ready to “expeditiously negotiate” a replacement to New START, the treaty capping intercontinental nuclear forces in the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in 2026.

Complete Disarmament
The NPT, which the signatories review every five years, aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote complete disarmament and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
At the last review conference in 2015, the parties were unable to reach agreement on substantive issues.
“The world can never be safe as long as any country has nuclear weapons,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, who was in New York for the meeting.
“And the NPT recognizes this,” she added. “It’s the reason that the treaty exists. And now states, parties more than ever need to act.”

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