The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, warned on Monday that the world is “just one misunderstanding or miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation”, for which he sued the atomic powers agreements to reduce this serious threat.

“Humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying flames of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Guterres said as he opened a nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference.

The United Nations chief lamented that at a time of strong geopolitical tensions and mistrust, countries are moving away from disarmament and instead seek “a false sense of security” by spending “hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons of the end of the world that have no place on our planet”.

Guterres recalled that there are currently almost 13,000 nuclear weapons stored and stressed the risk that this poses in the face of crises such as those in Ukraine, the Middle East or the Korean peninsula.

“We have had extraordinary luck so far, but luck is not a strategy. Nor is it a shield against geopolitical tensions leading to nuclear conflict,” he insisted.

According to Guterres, the NPT review conference that starts today is an opportunity to agree on measures to help prevent a disaster and to guide the world towards a future free of nuclear weapons.

Among other things, the Portuguese diplomat encouraged the participating governments to reaffirm the norm against the use of atomic weapons with practical measures to reduce the danger of a nuclear conflict, but also to advance in the reduction of arsenals with a view to total elimination.

In addition, he called for modernizing the NPT to go beyond the current status quo and promote the peaceful use of atomic energy as a response to the climate crisis.

On the other hand, Guterres called for promoting negotiations on atomic issues in the Middle East -in reference to Iran- and in Asia -in the case of North Korea- and warned that by adding the threat of nuclear weapons to these conflicts these regions are moving towards a “catastrophe”.

The NPT review conference, which is traditionally held every five years, opened today in New York two years late due to the covid-19 pandemic and marked by strong tensions between countries with atomic weapons.

The treaty, to which almost all the countries of the world have joined, aims to stop the expansion of atomic weapons and commits the five official nuclear powers (USA, Russia, France, China and the United Kingdom) with disarmament policies.

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