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UN head issues stark warning of nuclear danger amid global crisis

The world is facing a level of danger from nuclear weapons not seen since the height of the Cold War, UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the start of a conference reviewing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) in New York on Monday.

New York, 1 August 2022 (dpa/MIA) – The world is facing a level of danger from nuclear weapons not seen since the height of the Cold War, UN Secretary General António Guterres said at the start of a conference reviewing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) in New York on Monday.

“The climate crisis, stark inequalities, conflicts and human rights violations, and the personal and economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, have put our world under greater stress than it has faced in our lifetimes,” Guterres said.

This was occurring “at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War,” he said.

“Humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Guterres said. He noted that geopolitical tensions were reaching new highs, that competition was trumping cooperation and that distrust had replaced dialogue.

The NPT was an essential pillar of international security, with its unique status based on near-universal membership, legally-binding obligations and a verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, he said.

Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons were held in arsenals around the world at a time when the risks of proliferation were growing and guardrails to prevent escalation were weakening, Guterres said, pointing to crises with nuclear undertones in the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and Ukraine.

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

The UN describes the NPT as a landmark international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

It is subject to review every five years, and this the 10th review was to have taken place in 2020 but was postponed on account of the pandemic.

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