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UN warns world is on verge of ‘nuclear annihilation’

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on June 11, 2018, at the United Nations in New York. (Li Muzi/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)
August 02, 2022

On Monday, the top United Nations official warned that humanity is just one “misunderstanding” or “miscalculation” away from “nuclear annihilation.” 

During the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York City, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that nuclear war is imminent as conflicts “with nuclear undertones” fester around the world. 

“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. And when crises — with nuclear undertones — are festering,” Guterres said. “From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.” 

“Excellencies, the clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more. 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,” he warned. “Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.”

Guterres said humanity is “in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” He argued that governments around the world are seeking “false security” in stockpiling nuclear weapons, which he characterized as “doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet.”

The secretary-general called for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in an effort to avoid “certain disaster.”

Guterres argued “reducing the risk of war is not enough” and “eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used.” 

“We must work relentlessly towards this goal. This must start with new commitments to shrink the numbers of all kinds of nuclear weapons so that they no longer hang by a thread over humanity,” he said. “And it means reinvigorating — and fully resourcing — our multilateral agreements and frameworks around disarmament and non-proliferation, including the important work of the International Atomic Energy Agency. “  

“We are all here today because we believe in the Treaty’s purpose and function. But carrying it into the future requires going beyond the status quo. It requires renewed commitment, and real, good faith negotiations,” Guterres continued. “And it requires all Parties to listen, compromise and keep the lessons of the past — and the fragility of the future — in view at all times.”

“Excellencies, future generations are counting on your commitment to step back from the abyss. We have a shared obligation to leave the world a better, safer place than we found it,” he added. “This is our moment to meet this basic test, and lift the cloud of nuclear annihilation, once and for all.” 

The warning came on the same day Chinese missile forces posted photos of their nuclear Dongfeng DF-17 “Carrier Killer” missiles ahead of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.