UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on nations around the world to “put humanity on a new path” free of nuclear weapons, as rising geopolitical tensions have placed the planet at “a miscalculation of nuclear annihilation”.
“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far. But luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield against geopolitical tensions escalating into nuclear conflict,” Guterres said Aug. the tenth review conference of the non-proliferation treaty. (NPT) for nuclear weapons.
Signed in 1968 and in force since 1970, the NPT aims to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and to promote 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 nuclear-weapon states.
But Guterres warned that 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 spill 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 UN headquarters in New York, has been postponed several times since 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons are currently held in arsenals around the world. All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are increasing and the guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening,” said António Guterres.
Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the conference in a letter, saying there could be “no winners” in a nuclear war and that it should “never break out”.
“We start from the fact that there can be no winner in a nuclear war and that it should never be started, and we defend equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community,” he said. he stated in the letter.
His words contrasted with earlier statements that have been interpreted in the West as implicit threats amid the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has accused Russia of using its nuclear weapons to intimidate and threaten by engaging in “reckless and dangerous nuclear slashing”.
Blinken told the conference that there is no place in the world for “nuclear deterrence based on force and intimidation or blackmail.”
“We have to come together to reject this,” Blinken added.
Speaking to reporters after speaking at the conference, Blinken called Russia’s actions around Ukraine’s biggest nuclear power plant a “peak of irresponsibility”.
Russia has previously been accused of firing shells dangerously close to the Zaporizhzhya plant in March as its forces captured it during the first weeks of its invasion of Ukraine.
Washington is “deeply concerned” that Moscow is using the plant as a military base and firing at Ukrainian forces from nearby, Blinken said.
“Of course, the Ukrainians cannot retaliate for fear that there will be a terrible accident involving the nuclear power plant,” he said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s atomic watchdog, should have access to the plant, Blinken said.
While Blinken represented the United States at the conference, President Joe Biden released a statement on nonproliferation before the meeting began.
Biden said the United States was ready to present a new nuclear weapons deal with Russia and called on Moscow to demonstrate its ability to negotiate in good faith. Biden also called on China “to engage in talks that will reduce the risk of miscalculation and address destabilizing military dynamics.”
Moscow and Washington in February extended their New START treaty, which caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads they can deploy and limits land-based and submarine missiles and bombers to deliver them.
“Today, my administration stands ready to quickly negotiate a new arms control framework to replace New START when it expires in 2026,” Biden said in the statement.
“But negotiation requires a willing partner operating in good faith. And Russia’s brutal and unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has shattered the peace in Europe and is an attack on the fundamental principles of the international order,” Biden said. . “Russia should demonstrate that it is ready to resume work on nuclear arms control with the United States.”
Biden said China also has a responsibility to play a leading role in nonproliferation.
“There is no benefit to any of our nations, or the world, in resisting substantial commitment on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation,” Biden said, citing the current “moment of uncertainty and upheaval on the world stage”.