The United Nations Secretary-General warned on Monday that humanity was “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear destruction,” citing the war in Ukraine as one of the conflicts that has pushed the risk to levels that have since peaked. of the Cold War has not been seen.
“All this at a time when the risks of proliferation are increasing and the barriers to prevent escalation are weakening,” said the official, António Guterres. “And when crises – with nuclear undertones – from the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula proliferate until the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Mr Guterres spoke at the opening session of a conference at UN Headquarters in New York on maintaining and securing the 50-year-old Global Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, intended to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the aim of for any disarmament.
The conference took place after a two-year delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was attended by high-level representatives of member states, including the Prime Minister of Japan, the US Secretary of State and dozens of foreign ministers and delegations.
The threat of nuclear confrontation or nuclear accident as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a recurring theme in many of the speeches of the day.
Our coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine
President Vladimir V. Putin and other Russians have repeatedly suggested that nuclear war could break out if NATO intervened in the war in Ukraine. His troops used the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the spring as a staging area and have now turned a nuclear power plant, the largest in Europe, in the southern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya into a battle fortress.
In his remarks during the session, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the treaty had made the world a safer place, but was under increasing pressure. Mr Blinken cited Russia, Iran and North Korea as examples of nuclear-related concerns.
Mr Blinken condemned Russia for “reckless, dangerous rattling of nuclear sabers”, and said North Korea was preparing to conduct its seventh round of nuclear tests. He said Iran had not yet agreed to return to its obligations under a nuclear deal with world powers and “remained on a path of nuclear escalation”.
Russia and Iran are among the 191 signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes, a position the West has questioned, leading to attempts to strike a deal with Iran to smooth out its nuclear ambitions.
Mr Blinken also criticized Russia for using the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant as a staging area for attacks on Ukrainian troops, saying the Ukrainians were unable to fire back for fear they would attack a nuclear reactor or store radioactive waste.
“That takes the idea of having a human shield to a very different and horrifying level,” said Mr. shine.
The conference, which normally meets every five years, will review the three priorities of the treaty: preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promoting and supporting peaceful nuclear energy, and working towards global disarmament. But few concrete results are expected, given the current divisions between world powers.
Putin, who put his nuclear forces in “special combat readiness” in the early days of the invasion in February, also sent a message to the non-proliferation conference.
“We believe there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and it should never be fought,” Mr Putin wrote, according to Tass, Russia’s news agency. “We advocate equal and inseparable security for all members of the international community.”