Remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the General Assembly: High-level plenary meeting to commemorate and promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons - General Assembly, 76th session
Marking the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, UN chief António Guterres called on all States to support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and recognize its place in the global disarmament architecture.
At an event held in the General Assembly in New York today (28 Sep), Guterres said that the decision by the Russian Federation and the United States to extend the New START Treaty and begin a strategic dialogue is a welcome step. So, too, was January’s entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
He said, “the next year will bring fresh opportunities for Member States to build on these developments. This includes the long-delayed Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. A critical moment to reaffirm and build on past commitments.”
Guterres also said, “a nuclear arsenal is not self-defense. It is suicide.”
He continued, “today, 76 years later, we have yet to achieve the goals of that historic resolution. These weapons are not yesterday’s problem. They remain today’s threat. A clear and present danger.”
The UN chief explained, “almost 14,000 nuclear weapons are stockpiled around the world. While the total number has been decreasing, we’re seeing worrying signs of a new arms race. States continue to modernize their arsenals. Tensions remain elevated. Trust is in short supply.”
He added, “in this unstable environment, the chance of misunderstandings, miscalculations and malfunctions is frighteningly high. Nuclear risk has reached levels not seen in almost four decades.”
As the global family faces a long list of challenges. And COVID-19 has taught us to expect the unexpected. Catastrophes that are unimaginable today can dominate our lives tomorrow, said Guterres.
He also said, “against this unstable backdrop, the cloud of nuclear destruction looms largest. Humanity remains one misunderstanding, one misstep, one miscalculation, one pushed button away from annihilation.”
Guterres continued, “this cloud has cast its shadow over humanity for too long. Too many generations have lived under it. Let’s seize the opportunities this year and make sure that we move closer to our goal of eliminating these weapons. Let’s reject the poisonous and flawed logic of endless nuclear competition. Let’s lift this cloud for good and usher in a new era of dialogue, trust and peace for all people.”
The high-level meeting today aims to raise awareness about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their elimination in order to mobilize international efforts towards achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.