The world is facing “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War” and is “just one misunderstanding” away from nuclear disaster, U.N Secretary General António Guterres said at a conference on the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
“We have been extraordinarily lucky so far, but luck is not a strategy, nor is it a shield against geopolitical tensions turning into nuclear conflict,” Guterres told the conference of signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (TNN).
“Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” he said as he called on nations to “put humanity on a new path to a world without nuclear weapons,” according to France24.com.
The meeting of delegates, held at the U.N. headquarters in New York, had been postponed several times since 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It will run until August 26.
Guterres said the conference was “a chance to strengthen” the treaty and “make it fit for the worrying situation around us,” citing Russia’s war in Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and the Middle East.
“The elimination of nuclear weapons is the only guarantee that they will never be used,” the secretary-general said, adding that he would visit Hiroshima for the anniversary of the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the Japanese city by the United States.
“Nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons are now held in arsenals around the world. All this at a time when proliferation risks are increasing and defenses to prevent escalation are weakening,” Guterres added.
In January, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, China, Russia, Britain, and France — pledged to prevent the further build-up of nuclear weapons.
At the last review conference in 2015, the parties could not reach an agreement on the substantive issues.