UN chief calls for end to ‘nuclear saber-rattling’

UNITED NATIONS — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for an end to “nuclear saber-rattling,” saying the world is at a “maximum moment of danger” and that all countries with nuclear weapons must commit to “no first use.” ”

The UN chief told the UN Security Council that the commitment to dialogue and reason that led to the recent deal to resume grain and fertilizer supplies from Ukraine and Russia was due to “the critical situation” at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhia applied in south-eastern Ukraine, where sustained shelling and fighting in the region have raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe.

Guterres said: “The future of humanity is in our hands today,” Guterres urged all countries to “commit again to a world free of nuclear weapons and spare no effort to come to the negotiating table to defuse tensions and the nuclear arms race.” to end it once and for all.”

The secretary-general addressed a council meeting organized by China, which holds the presidency this month, on “promoting common security through dialogue and cooperation.”

Across the world, Guterres said, collective security is being tested like “never before,” citing geopolitical divisions, conflicts, military coups, invasions, protracted wars, and divisions among the world’s major powers, “including at this council “.

He also named “challenges unimaginable for our predecessors – cyber warfare, terrorism and deadly autonomous weapons”.

“And nuclear risk has risen to its highest level in decades,” Guterres warned.

The Council meeting took place during the pandemic-delayed conference to review the 50-year-old Non-Proliferation Treaty, considered the cornerstone of international disarmament efforts.

It comes amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s warning after his February 24 invasion of Ukraine that Russia is a “potent” nuclear power and any attempt at interference would lead to “consequences you never saw.” and its decision to put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert.

Putin has since said that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” a message repeated by a senior Russian official on the opening day of the NPT conference on Aug. 2.

The NPT sought to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons beyond the five original nuclear powers – the US, Russia, Chuna, Britain and France – and eventually achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world. It requires non-nuclear signatory states not to seek nuclear weapons in exchange for a five-power commitment to moving toward nuclear disarmament and guaranteeing non-nuclear states’ access to peaceful nuclear technology for energy production.

Gustavo Zlauvinen, President of the NPT Review Conference, told the Security Council, without naming a country, that since February the NPT has “faced a series of challenges of a variety and scope unlike anything before it.”

It should come as no surprise, he said, that concerns about the need for urgent disarmament action have grown.

Zlauvinen, an official at Argentina’s foreign ministry, called “the norm” against the use of nuclear weapons one of the key achievements of the post-WWII era, but warned that “it is increasingly under threat.”

He also warned that the current global security environment has revived the belief that nuclear weapons offer “the ultimate guarantee of security,” calling it “an extremely damaging narrative and dangerous for non-proliferation.”

Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the council that “the international security system is in a profound crisis” and that trust among key international actors in almost all the institutions on which it is based is at “a critically low level”.

For over 200 years, he said, Western countries have blamed Russia for everything.

Nebenzia accused the United States and its allies of “acting in Asia and Africa in the same ruthless and provocative manner” as in Ukraine. And he said, “The ruthless American plan with Taiwan goes in the same direction.”

He said Russia called an emergency Security Council meeting Tuesday over Ukraine’s provocations at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.

He accused “Western countries that support Ukraine of essentially helping Kyiv in its attempts at nuclear blackmail,” while ignoring the shelling of the facility by Ukrainian forces. Ukraine has accused Russia of using the plant as a military base and shelling it and the surrounding area.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the Council that one of the greatest threats to maintaining world peace and security is Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor and member of the United Nations. She listed diplomatic efforts by the US and many other nations to prevent Moscow’s military action.

“However, Russia rejected dialogue, rejected established views of sovereign equality, rejected the concept of the indivisibility of security and launched a terrible war,” she said.

Echoing Russia’s repeated assertion that one state’s security cannot come at the expense of another, Thomas-Greenfield said: “Russia’s anguished, vocal messages about the alleged threats it faces from its neighbors ignore the fact that all nations have the right to choose their security alliances.”

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