UN chief calls for global abolition of nuclear weapons after Putin threat

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United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday called for the global elimination of nuclear weapons to prevent “humanitarian Armageddon” as international tensions heighten over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“The Cold War brought humanity within minutes of annihilation. Now, decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we can hear once again the rattling of nuclear sabres,” Guterres said in remarks to the U.N. 

“Let me be clear. The era of nuclear blackmail must end. The idea that any country could fight and win a nuclear war is deranged. Any use of a nuclear weapon would incite a humanitarian Armageddon. We need to step back.” 

The U.N. chief was speaking to mark the organization’s International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which has been observed since 2013. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin last week threatened that he would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons to protect Russia, and the U.S. warned of “catastrophic consequences” if Moscow does so.  

Tensions are also high at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the largest such plant in Europe, where Ukrainians are operating the facilities under Russian military occupation and as nearby fighting endangers the plant’s infrastructure and power.  

“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive power ever created. They offer no security — just carnage and chaos. Their elimination would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations,” Guterres said. 

Despite the U.N.’s long-running efforts to push the international community toward the nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, the agency reports that nearly 13,000 such weapons remain in arsenals worldwide. 

Guterres said countries in the U.N. are growing frustrated with the “slow pace” of disarmament — and becoming more concerned about “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.” 

The U.N. leader said on Twitter that nuclear disarmament “is not a utopian dream” and urged countries to work toward treaties and arms control efforts.  

Tags Antonio Guterres Antonio Guterres nuclear weapons Nuclear weapons russia Russia-Ukraine war Secretary General ukraine United Nations United Nations Vladimir Putin Vladimir Putin Zaporizhzhia

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