Aug 2, 2022
Secretary-General António Guterres said that “humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. We need the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as much as ever.”
Making his remarks today (01 Aug) in New York to the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Guterres told member states that “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.”
Guterres said that humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Geopolitical tensions are reaching new highs. Competition is trumping co-operation and collaboration. Distrust has replaced dialogue and disunity has replaced disarmament. States are seeking false security in stockpiling and spending hundreds of billions of dollars on doomsday weapons that have no place on our planet.
He added that 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. From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.
Guterres suggest five areas for action.
First, he said, “we urgently need to reinforce and reaffirm the 77-year-old norm against the use of nuclear weapons. This requires a steadfast commitment from all States Parties. It means finding practical measures that will reduce the risk of nuclear war and put us back on the path to disarmament.”
Guterres continued, “we need to strengthen all avenues of dialogue and transparency. Peace cannot take hold in an absence of trust and mutual respect.”
Second, reducing the risk of war is not enough, he said.
The UN chief explained, “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. 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.”
Speaking in French, Guterres said the third action is to “address the simmering tensions in the Middle East and Asia. By adding the threat of nuclear weapons to enduring conflicts, these regions are edging towards catastrophe. We need to redouble our support for dialogue and negotiation to ease tensions and forge new bonds of trust in regions that have seen too little.”
Fourtt is to promote the peaceful use of nuclear technology as a catalyst to advance the Sustainable Development Goals, including for medical and other uses.
Guterres reiterated that when used for peaceful purposes, this technology can be a great benefit to humanity.
And fifth, the international community needs to “fulfill all outstanding commitments in the Treaty itself, and keep it fit-for-purpose in these trying times.”
The NPT is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent 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 and general and complete disarmament.