Amid Rising Global Tensions, UN Chief Warns About Nuclear Annihilation

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on nations around the globe to "put humanity on a new path" that is free of nuclear weapons as rising geopolitical tensions have put the planet 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 on August 1 at the start of the Tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for nuclear weapons.

Signed in 1968 and in effect since 1970, the NPT is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament in general.

The treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states.

But Guterres warned the world currently faces "a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War," as the war between Russia and Ukraine threatens to boil over and engulf the West.

"Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation," he said.

The meeting, which is being held at the UN's headquarters in New York, has been postponed several times since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"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 said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the conference in a letter, saying there could be "no winners" in a nuclear war and it should "never be unleashed."

"We proceed from the fact that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed, and we stand for equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community," he said in the letter.

His words contrasted with earlier statements that have been interpreted in the West as implicit threats amid Russia's ongoing full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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Key Words: Nuclear Weapons, NPT, Nuclear Disarmament, Russia, UN, United Nations, Ukraine

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