World one step away from ‘nuclear destruction’, warns UN chief

United Nations (AP) – Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned over the war in Ukraine, nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East and other tensions, warning that “humanity is just a misunderstanding, a miscalculation from nuclear annihilation.”

The warning came as a pandemic-delayed conference opened on Monday to review the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which aims to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and ultimately achieve a nuclear-free world.

The threat of nuclear catastrophe was also raised by the United States, Japan, Germany, the nuclear chief of the United Nations and many other inaugural speakers.

Russia, which was criticized by some speakers, did not give its address at its scheduled time on Monday, but was expected to speak on Tuesday. China’s representative was scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said North Korea was preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, with Iran “reluctant to either accept an agreement to return to the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at reining in its nuclear program”. or incapable”, and Russia is “engaged in a reckless, dangerous nuclear saber-rattle in Ukraine”.

He cited Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warnings after the February 24 invasion that any attempt to intervene would have “results you’ve never seen”, emphasizing that his country is “one of the most powerful nuclear powers.” ”

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that the division in the world, which ended without a consent document, has become more severe since the last review conference in 2015, adding that Ukraine is not willing to use nuclear weapons in war. Russia’s threat to “contribution to worldwide concern that catastrophe from the use of yet another nuclear weapons is a real possibility.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock said Moscow’s “reckless nuclear rhetoric” since its invasion of its smaller neighbour is “endangering everything the NPT has achieved in the five decades.”

Putin appeared to back down from his nuclear warning in a congratulatory message to NPT participants posted on his website on Monday.

“We believe that a nuclear war cannot and should never be fought, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community,” the Russian leader said.

Blinken also noted that Russia has seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya and is using it as a military base to fire on Ukrainians, “knowing that they will shoot back.” Can’t and won’t run because they could accidentally strike a nuclear reactor or highly radioactive waste in storage.” He said it brings the notion of being “a human shield to a completely different and terrifying level”.

Russia’s delegation to the NPT issued a statement on Monday night rejecting Blinken’s argument that Russia was using the Zaporizhzhya plant as a military base, saying that a limited number of troops would be “safe and secure at the power plant”. to be sure”.

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

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

Guterres said the month-long review conference is taking place “in a time of nuclear threat not seen since the height of the Cold War.”

The conference is “an opportunity to set out measures that will help avoid some disaster, and to put humanity on a new path toward a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said.

But Guterres warned that “geopolitical weapons are reaching new highs,” there are nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons in arsenals worldwide, and countries seeking “false security” are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on “weapons of doom”. Huh.

“All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are rising and the railing to contain escalation is weakening,” he said, “and when the crisis – along with nuclear ventures – has led to an invasion of Ukraine from the Middle East and the Korean peninsula. Celebrating Russia, and many other factors around the world.”

Guterres called on the participants of the conference to take a number of actions: urgently reinforce and reaffirm the “77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons”, with new commitments to reduce the arsenal of nuclear weapons. Work tirelessly in the direction to address the “rising tension in the country”. Middle East and Asia” and promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology.

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

Japan’s Kishida, recalling his home city of Hiroshima, where the first atomic bomb was dropped in August 1945, echoed many of Guterres’s points by saying that the path to a world without nuclear weapons had become harder but “left.” Giving up is not an option.”

Since 1970, the Non-Proliferation Treaty has the broadest adherence to any arms control agreement, of which some 191 countries are members.

Under its provisions, the five original nuclear powers – the United States, China, Russia (then the Soviet Union), Britain and France – agreed to negotiate toward someday eliminating their arsenals and nations without nuclear weapons. Promised not to get them in return. Guaranteed to be able to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes.

India and Pakistan, which did not join the NPT, proceeded to get the bombs. So did North Korea, which ratified the deal but later announced it was withdrawing. Non-signatory Israel is believed to have a nuclear arsenal, but neither confirms nor denies it.

The meeting, which ends on August 26, aims to build consensus on next steps, but hopes remain low – if any – for agreement.


Associated Press writer Jennifer Peltz contributed to this report.

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