Threat of nuclear weapons use growing, UN warns

A top UN official on Monday denounces growing rhetoric claiming that nuclear arms are necessary and warned that the risk of such weapons being used was on the rise.

“The threat of the use, intentional or otherwise, of nuclear weapons is growing,” the UN’s top representative for disarmament affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, tells a preliminary review meeting of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The NPT, which was introduced at the height of the Cold War a half century ago, seeks to prevent the spread of atomic weapons but also puts the onus on nuclear states to reduce their stockpiles.

But speaking at the opening of the Geneva meeting, Nakamitsu warns that “the world today faces similar challenges to the context that gave birth to the NPT.”

The preparatory committee in advance of the 2020 NPT review conference comes after North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty 15 years ago, declared a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests and said it would dismantle its nuclear test site.

Nakamitsu hails the announcement, voicing hope that the move “will contribute to building trust and to sustaining an atmosphere for sincere dialogue and negotiations.”

She warns however that the overall “geopolitical environment is deteriorating.”

“Some of the most important instruments and agreements that comprise our collective security framework are being eroded,” she says.

“Rhetoric about the necessity and utility of nuclear weapons is on the rise,” she says, stressing that “modernization programs by nuclear-weapons states are leading to what many see as a new, qualitative arms race.”


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