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Monday August 15, 2022

UN chief warns humanity 'one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation'

Guterres's comments came during opening of Non-Proliferation Treaty's (NPT) 10th review conference

By AFP
August 01, 2022
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the start of the tenth annual review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN headquarters on August 01, 2022, in New York City. — AFP
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the start of the tenth annual review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN headquarters on August 01, 2022, in New York City. — AFP

UNITED STATES: UN head Antonio Guterres warned Monday that the world faced "a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War" and was just "one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation."

"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," Guterres said at the start of a conference of countries belonging to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — an international treaty that came into force in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

"Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation," he said, calling on nations to "put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons."

The meeting, held at the UN's headquarters in New York, has been postponed several times since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will run until August 26.

Guterres said the conference was "a chance to strengthen" the treaty and "make it fit for the worrying world around us," citing Russia´s war in Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East.

"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.

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