Prospect of a nuclear war ‘higher than it has been in generations’, warns UN

UN Photo/Rick Bajornas A view of the sculpture “Good Defeats Evil” on the UN Headquarters grounds, presented to the UN by the Soviet Union on the occasion of the Organization’s 45th anniversary. Created by Zurab Tsereteli, a native of Georgia, the sculpture depicts St. George slaying the dragon.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


In a world defined by “competition over cooperation, and the acquisition of arms, prioritized over the pursuit of diplomacy”, the threat of a nuclear weapon being used is “higher than it has been in generations,” the Security Council heard on Tuesday.

The warning came from Izumi Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, in a meeting convened in support of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), ahead of the next conference to review the historic accord, scheduled for 2020.

The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, represents the only multilateral, binding commitment to the goal of disarmament by the States which officially stockpile nuclear weapons.

Its objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and disarmament overall.

Ms. Nakamitsu said that the use of nuclear weapons, “either intentionally, by accident, or through miscalculation”, is one of the greatest threats to international peace and security, and that “the potential consequences of a nuclear war would be global and affect all Member States.”

The Treaty, she said, is widely acknowledged as “the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation of nuclear disarmament. Its role as a pillar of our collective security is likewise an accepted fact.”

From disarmament success to “dangerous rhetoric”

The disarmament chief described the two pillars of the NPT – disarmament and non-proliferation ­– as “two sides of the same coin”, adding that “backward movement on one will result in backward movement on the other.”

Unfortunately, Ms. Nakamitsu was able to cite several examples, including the use of “dangerous rhetoric” about nuclear weapons’ use; an increased reliance on nuclear weapons in security doctrines; and modernization programmes to make nuclear weapons faster, stealthier and more accurate.

The durability of the NPT, which has lasted for almost half a century, cannot be taken for granted, she insisted, adding that there is currently nothing to replace the disarmament and arms control framework which is foundational to the post-Cold War era.

With the Treaty coming under increasing stress, the upcoming Review Conference in 2020 will, she said, be a “defining moment.” It could either highlight divisions between States and raise questions about their willingness to seek collective security for all, or present “a golden opportunity to make the practical gains that will ensure the Treaty’s continued viability.”

Iran, North Korea nuclear programmes ‘top of the agenda’

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, also briefed the Council, reminding members of the role that the Agency plays in the implementation of the NPT; in the creation of an environment “conducive to nuclear cooperation”; and in assisting developing countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful means.

However, Mr. Amano said the IAEA was facing several challenges, including the steady increase in the amount of nuclear material in circulation, the number of nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards (the system of inspection and verification of the peaceful uses of nuclear materials), and continuing pressure on the Agency’s budget.

He told the Council that monitoring the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), are among the top items on the IAEA’s agenda.

Mr. Amano said that Iran was implementing its commitments under the UN-backed Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, whose future has been put in doubt by the decision of the US administration to withdraw from the agreement. After 2009, he said, there have been “no credible indications of activities in Iran relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”

As for the DPRK, Mr. Amano said that the country’s nuclear programme has significantly expanded over the past decade, carrying out nuclear tests on five separate occasions since 2009, despite the recent lull. With no inspectors inside the country, the IAEA monitors the situation using tools such as open-source information and satellite imagery.

Security Council reaffirms support for nuclear treaty

In a statement released following the meeting, the Security Council announced a reaffirmation of its members’ support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and a commitment to “advance the goals of the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and the foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.”

Describing the NPT commitments taken under the treaty as viable and mutually reinforcing, the statement underscored the need for its full implementation, and the importance of achieving universal adherence to the Treaty.

The Council members agreed that the 2020 NPT Review Conference will provide an opportunity for an unambiguous reaffirmation of commitment to the Treaty, a commemoration of its historic achievements, and the strengthening of the nuclear-disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Brexit: political groups discuss options for an orderly withdrawal

A very good morning in European markets

IMF: How To Deal With Failed Banks

Service and Sacrifice: For Ghana, UN peacekeeping is a ‘noble opportunity to serve humanity’

State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into compensation for early closure of lignite-fired power plants in Germany

Rohingya cannot become ‘forgotten victims,’ says UN chief urging world to step up support

‘Nothing left to go back for’: UN News hears extraordinary stories of loss, and survival as Mozambique rebuilds from deadly cyclones

Time to be welcome: Youth work and integration of young refugees

MEPs urge the EU to lead the way to net-zero emissions by 2050

Will AI make the gender gap in the workplace harder to close?

The global issue of migration in 2017

How Pakistan is aiming for a green recovery from the pandemic

NextGenerationEU: European Commission endorses Belgium’s €5.9 billion recovery and resilience plan

In Christchurch, UN chief calls for tolerance, solidarity to extinguish ‘wildfire’ of hate speech

Commission to invest €14.7 billion from Horizon Europe for a healthier, greener and more digital Europe

Medical students: catalysts to close the gender gap

Can autonomous cars make traffic jams a thing of the past?

Russia’s permafrost is melting and it could have a devastating global effect

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

New UN book club helps children deal with global issues

“China will strive to enhance the performance of economic growth”, President Xi highlights from the World Economic Forum 2017 in Davos

Monday’s Daily Brief: US-DPRK relationship reset, ‘Horrific’ Kabul bombing, Anti-conscription plan in Syria, Climate change heat stress, Security Council in Iraq

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

European Commission Joint Research Centre opens world-class laboratories to researchers

The world condemned by neo-liberals to feed trillions to banks: the New Deal exorcised

Mergers: Commission approves the merger of Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn division, subject to conditions

What paleoecology can teach us about fires in the Amazon

The link between migration and technology is not what you think

Counterfeiters are taking advantage of the pandemic. Here’s how to stop them

3 reasons why civil society is essential to COVID-19 recovery

Panama’s fight for a delayed right: women’s economic independence

14 innovative projects helping to save the planet and make the world a better place

Italy can stand the US rating agencies’ meaningless degrading

Scale of displacement across Myanmar ‘very difficult to gauge’, says UN refugee agency

FROM THE FIELD: Niger supporting the most vulnerable, as crises mount

6 ways least developed countries can participate in the 4IR

UN chief calls for Security Council to work with Myanmar to end ‘horrendous suffering’ of Rohingya refugees

International partners pledge $1.2 billion to help cyclone-hit Mozambique recover, ‘build back better’

Commission welcomes agreement on the modernisation of EU export controls

One migrant child reported dead or missing every day, UN calls for more protection

Japan’s agro-food sector would benefit greatly from policies to boost innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable resource use

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

High-technology manufacturing saves the EU industry

5 ways to boost sustainable trade in the world’s poorest countries

The West unites against Mali desert rebels

Sweden gives all employees time off to be entrepreneurs

Happens now in Brussels: Green Week sets the EU and global climate policy agenda

5 surprising ways major cities are going green

“ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges”, a Sting Exclusive by China’s Ambassador to the EU

More efforts needed to boost trust in business and finance

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

Recovery effort will fizzle out quickly if there is no long-term perspective

Global hunger is on the rise. These simple steps could help eradicate it

Women that inspire women

Antitrust: Commission opens investigation into Broadcom and sends Statement of Objections seeking to impose interim measures in TV and modem chipsets markets

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

This surgeon runs a makeshift hospital for over 200,000 people

European Union launches WTO trade dispute against Colombia’s unfair duties on frozen fries

Inside the battle to counteract the COVID-19 ‘infodemic’

Where are the world’s nuclear weapons?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s