Guterres advocates ‘world without nuclear weapons’

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

The possession of nuclear weapons by countries is ‘fundamentally incompatible’ with humanity’s aspiration for peace, UN Secretary-General António Guterres, said on Monday in New York.

Guterres said at the start of a UN conference to negotiate a legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, called for a world without nuclear weapons.

He highlighted that creating a world free of such weapons is a common obligation of all States, both nuclear and non-nuclear, and called for their inclusive engagements.

The UN chief was represented by Kim Won-soo, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

“Let us all work harder and more creatively, so that we can achieve our common goal of a world, safer and more secure, without nuclear weapons, and better for all,” he said.

Guterres expressed the hope that the conference would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and advance the world closer to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

According to him, it would make important contributions to nuclear disarmament and to the UN ultimate objective of general and complete disarmament.

While acknowledging that defeatism and dismissiveness now permeated international deliberations on disarmament, he cautioned that the public at large seemed to be losing interest in the serious issue.

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“Indeed, it is hard to imagine these days a gathering of one million people in the street in support of nuclear disarmament, as the world witnessed in the 1980s.

“We need to find a new way to inspire and motivate the public in support of disarmament.

“This is in the same way that they have been energised to respond to the challenge of climate change, an existential threat facing humanity,” he stated.

According to 2016 estimates, more than 15,000 nuclear warheads remain in global stockpiles.

“While this is a considerable reduction from the inventories maintained during the Cold War, the pace of the reduction has declined in recent years and concerns are rising over continued reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines and continuing programmes to modernise and improve nuclear weapons.”

Guterres also stressed that purist of nuclear as well as non-nuclear strategic weapons would not create security but instead can provoke “new and destabilising” arms races as well as exacerbate regional and global tension.

“The possession of nuclear weapons, which are linked with the threat of their use, is fundamentally incompatible with humanity’s common aspirations for peace and security,” he said.

The UK, U.S. and France boycotted the UN nuclear weapons ban treaty, aimed at prohibiting the development and use of nuclear weapons by countries.