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May 23, 2019

Risk of nuclear war now highest: UN top expert

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May 23, 2019

GENEVA: The risk of nuclear weapons being used is at its highest since World War Two, a senior UN security expert has said, calling it an “urgent” issue that the world should take more seriously.

Renata Dwan, director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), said all states with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernisation programmes underway and the arms control landscape is changing, partly due to strategic competition between China and the United States, an international wire service reported.

Traditional arms control arrangements are also being eroded by the emergence of new types of war, with increasing prevalence of armed groups and private sector forces and new technologies that blurred the line between offense and defense, she told reporters in Geneva. With disarmament talks stalemated for the past two decades, 122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, partly out of frustration and partly out of a recognition of the risks, she said.

“I think that it’s genuinely a call to recognize – and this has been somewhat missing in the media coverage of the issues – that the risks of nuclear war are particularly high now, and the risks of the use of nuclear weapons, for some of the factors I pointed out, are higher now than at any time since World War Two.”

Dwan said the world should not ignore the danger of nuclear weapons. “How we think about that, and how we act on that risk and the management of that risk, seems to me a pretty significant and urgent question,” she said.

She added that it was not being adequately addressed in arms control talks or multilateral bodies such as the UN Security Council nor by bilateral arrangements between states. On Wednesday, China’s disarmament ambassador in Geneva accused Washington of sabotaging and tearing up deals and having a “Cold War mentality”, and said Washington displayed bullying behavior.

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