Humanity is just one misstep away from nuclear apocalypse, according to a fresh warning from the UN Secretary-General speaking about the world's urgent need to step away from atomic weapons.
“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. Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
Guterres’ comments came as governments came together to reaffirm the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York this week. The treaty aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, with the ultimate goal of achieving total nuclear disarmament.
“Future generations are counting on your commitment to step back from the abyss,” Guterres stressed.
Coming into effect in 1970, the treaty was been signed by the overwhelming majority of the world powers, with the notable exceptions of Israel, North Korea, India, and Pakistan, all of whom possess nuclear warheads.
While nuclear weapons haven’t been used on humans since the US atomic bombing of Japan in 1945, the UN Secretary-General says this is essentially thanks to “luck,” not due to any active measures to avoid conflict. With the world facing huge new challenges and geopolitical tensions reaching boiling point once again, Guterres believes that the risk of nuclear self-annihilation is the highest its been since the peak of the Cold War.
“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 added.
“And it occurs at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the cold war,” he continued.
“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 cooperation 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 explained.