UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
“On this International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we remind ourselves of a fundamental truth: the real only way to prevent the use of nuclear weapons is to eliminate them,” he told a high-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate and promote this International Day.
Any use of a nuclear weapon — anytime, anywhere and in any context — would unleash a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions, he warned.
A worrisome new arms race is brewing. The number of nuclear weapons could rise for the first time in decades. Hard-won norms to prevent their use, spread and testing are being undermined. The global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture is eroding. Nuclear arsenals are being modernized to make these weapons faster, more accurate, and stealthier, he noted.
Guterres called on nuclear-weapon states to meet their disarmament obligations and commit to no use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.
He stressed the need to reinforce and re-commit to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime built over the decades, which he said includes the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Guterres called for dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation to ease tensions and end the nuclear threat.
This dialogue must extend to all categories of nuclear weapons, and must address the increasing interplay between strategic and conventional weapons, and the nexus between nuclear weapons and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence. Humans must always be in control of, and responsible for, any decision to use nuclear weapons, he said.
“The world has spent too long under the shadow of nuclear weapons. Let’s step back from the edge of disaster. Let’s usher in a new era of peace for all people. Let’s make history by consigning nuclear weapons to history,” he said.