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According to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the world is now under greater stress than at any time in recent decades. And while humanity has so far avoided “the suicidal mistake of nuclear conflict”, he said, tensions are reaching new heights at a time when many lessons of the past seem forgotten.
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” said the world’s top diplomat. said at a UN conference on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in New York.
This is not the first time that such a grave warning has been issued about the catastrophic risks posed by nuclear weapons. Here’s a quick rundown of why Guterres and others are sounding the alarm now:
World politics is in bad shape
“The climate crisis, gross inequality, conflict and human rights abuses, and the personal and economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, have put our world under greater pressure than in the past. of our lives,” said António Guterres.
The UN chief also highlighted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying we face “a period of nuclear danger unprecedented since the height of the Cold War”.
Russia has repeatedly threat of nuclear retaliation against any country that directly interferes in his country’s brutal invasion of Ukraine.
Judging Russia’s willingness to use nuclear weapons, Fred Kaplan, author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, told NPR in March that “there is a greater chance of something like this happening perhaps than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis”.
Nuclear arsenals are developing and modernizing
High tensions make it more likely that countries will seek to increase and modernize their nuclear assets rather than reduce them, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or I CANwho won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
“At the same time, the five nuclear weapons NPT [non-proliferation treaty] member states are violating their disarmament obligations under the treaty and increasing the risk of catastrophic nuclear war,” ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn said in a statement about the UN conference.
Rising arms stockpiles are reversing years of post-Cold War progress, António Guterres has said.
“States seek false security by stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet,” he said, noting the atmosphere of competition and distrust. which prevails.
“Nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons are currently held in arsenals around the world,” according to António Guterres.
Even before the Ukraine crisis, the trend was well established and broad. Late last year, for example, India tested a newly updated version of its nuclear-capable ballistic missile – one of many advancements in its nuclear arsenal, as noted by the Nuclear Information Project to the Federation of American Scientists.
Hiroshima’s anniversary is approaching
Guterres is set to travel to Hiroshima this weekend to mark the anniversary of the world’s first nuclear attack, by the United States against Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, originally from Hiroshima, address the UN conference on Monday, calling on all nuclear-weapon countries to act responsibly.
Kishida expressed Japan’s support for U.S.-Russian talks on potential stockpile reductions, and he said his country “encourages the United States and China to engage in bilateral dialogue on nuclear arms control and disarmament”.
Kishida brought with him a folded paper crane, a tribute to Sasaki Sadako, the Japanese girl who survived the Hiroshima attack at the age of two but died of leukemia 10 years later. His origami cranes have become a symbol of the wish to live without the threat of nuclear war.
Since the first United Nations Conference on Non-Proliferation in 1975, meetings of about a month have normally been held every five years. But the pandemic has forced the 2020 sessions to be postponed until now.