Cold War scent around the risks of “nuclear annihilation”

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Humanity is just “a misunderstanding” away from “nuclear annihilation”, says the UN secretary general.

Humanity is 'one misunderstanding' away from 'nuclear annihilation', the UN secretary-general warned on Monday, awakening a scent of the Cold War while the United States, United Kingdom and France called on Russia to end its “nuclear rhetoric”.

Describing escalating crises, with nuclear tones, from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula and Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Antonio Guterres has widely voiced his fears of an escalation.

We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy or a shield to prevent geopolitical tensions from escalating into nuclear conflict, he told the opening of a conference of the 191 signatory countries of the peace treaty. Nuclear Non-Proliferation (NPT).

“Today, humanity is at a misunderstanding, a miscalculation of the #x27;nuclear annihilation. »

— Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

Mr. Guterres opined that such nuclear danger has not been experienced since the height of the Cold War.

Humanity is in danger to forget the lessons of the terrifying conflagration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, added the UN chief, who will visit Hiroshima in a few days for the anniversary of the bombing.

A concern shared by the president of this conference, which is being held until August 26 at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The threat posed by nuclear weapons [.. .] has returned to the same level as during the Cold War, said the Argentinian Gustavo Zlauvinen.

If we've learned anything from the pandemic, it's that low-probability events can occur, with little notice or no notice, with catastrophic consequences for the world. It's the same for nuclear weapons, he added.

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media ahead of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

So this meeting of the parties to the NPT, postponed several times since 2020 due to COVID-19, is an opportunity to strengthen this treaty and bring it into line with today's world, said Antonio Guterres, hoping for a reaffirmation of the non-use of nuclear weapons, but also new commitments to reduce the arsenal.

“Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee that they will never be used.

— Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

Nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons are stored in arsenals around the world. At a time when the risks of proliferation are growing and the safeguards to prevent this escalation are weakening, he insisted.

In early January, the five members of the Security Council (the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom and France), also nuclear powers, had pledged to prevent the continuation of nuclear dissemination, just before a new postponement of the review conference. And before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The new Russian nuclear missile

On Monday, the United States, United Kingdom and France reaffirmed this commitment in a joint statement, reaffirming that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never take place.

Following Russia's unprovoked and illegal aggression against Ukraine, we call on Russia to stop its nuclear rhetoric and its irresponsible and dangerous attitude, have -they added.

A Chinese military ballistic missile-launching nuclear submarine during a military demonstration at sea in Southern China (archives)

US President Joe Biden has called on Russia and China to start talks on nuclear arms control. He reiterated that his administration was ready to quickly negotiate a replacement for New START, the treaty capping intercontinental nuclear forces in the United States and Russia, which is due to expire in 2026.

The NPT, the operation of which the parties 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.

But at the last review conference in 2015, the parties were unable to reach agreement on substantive issues.

The world cannot be safe as long as a country has nuclear weapons, worried Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), present in New York for the occasion.

The NPT recognizes this. And the parties must now act.

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