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On A Suicidal Mistake

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the world is just one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. Speaking at the UN Conference on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York on August 1, 2022, the UN Chief reportedly said: “Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” According to Guterres, the global community has not seen nuclear tensions since the end of the Cold War.

Experts are of the opinion that the warning of the UN chief is significant in the backdrop of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Although the Western World has urged Russia to change its aggressive policy towards neighbours, the Kremlin is yet to soften its stand on Ukraine. Guterres also expressed serious concern over the rising military tensions in West Asia and on the Korean Peninsula. He told the audience that humanity successfully avoided “the suicidal mistake of nuclear conflict“, but tensions recently started hitting new highs at a time when many lessons of the past seem forgotten. He called for stricter adherence to Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaties in order to reduce indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons.

António Guterres

On August 1, Britain, France and the US issued a joint statement, mentioning: “We recognise and act with a deep understanding that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. We affirm the aspiration and high stakes associated with preserving the record of non-use of nuclear weapons since 1945. Nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.” They also strongly criticised irresponsible behaviour of Russia on the issue of nuclear disarmament. The three countries earnestly suggested Russia to show restraint in order to ensure world peace and stability, in accordance with international law. Guterres made a similar request to Moscow.

The UN Chief believes that Global Politics are in quite a bad shape, as he said: “The climate crisis, stark inequalities, conflicts, 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.

2022 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at New York (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

Fred Kaplan, the author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War, too, expressed concern over Russia’s willingness to use a nuclear weapon against Ukraine, stressing: “There’s a higher chance of something like that happening maybe than any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, has said it is unfortunate that powerful countries are planning to increase and modernise their nuclear arsenal, instead of reducing them. Addressing the UN conference, ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn stated : “At the same time, all five nuclear-armed NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) member states are violating their disarmament obligations under the treaty and increasing the risk of catastrophic nuclear war.

Since the first UN Non-Proliferation Conference in 1975, the World Body has been holding meetings every five years. However, the COVID-19 Pandemic prompted the 2020 sessions to be postponed until 2022.

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