World, One Error Away from Nuclear Destruction – UN Chief

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that the world is “one mechanical, electronic or human error away from a catastrophe that could eradicate entire cities from the map.”

Guterres made this known while announcing a bold new vision for global disarmament to help eliminate nuclear arsenals and other deadly weapons warning, the world is just “one mechanical, electronic and human error away” from destruction.

Unveiling his new agenda, entitled, Securing Our Common Future, at the University of Geneva, he said: “The UN was created with the goal of eliminating war as an instrument of foreign policy”.

“But seven decades on, our world is as dangerous as it has ever been,” he warned.

“Disarmament prevents and ends violence. Disarmament supports sustainable development. And disarmament is true to our values and principles,” he explained.

“The launch came at a time when “arms control has been in the news every day, sometimes in relation to Iran and Syria, sometimes the Korean Peninsula,” the UN chief said.

The new Agenda focuses on three priorities – weapons of mass destruction, conventional weapons, and new battlefield technologies.

He stressed that disarmament of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons could “save humanity,” noting that some 15,000 nuclear weapons remain stockpiled around the world and hundreds are ready to be launched within minutes.

Guterres said the States that possessed nuclear weapons had the primary responsibility for avoiding catastrophe, appealing to Russia and the U.S. to resolve their dispute over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The UN chief appealed to the two leading nuclear arsenal countries to extend the new treaty on strategic offensive arms, which is due to expire in just three years and to take new steps towards reducing nuclear stockpiles.

He said disarmament of conventional weapons, which include small arms, light weapons and landmines,  could “save lives,” in particular those of civilians who continue to bear the brunt of the armed conflict.

The UN chief said that beyond the appalling numbers of civilians killed and injured, conflicts were driving record numbers of people from their homes, often depriving them of food, healthcare, education and any means of making a living.

“At the end of 2016, more than 65 million people were uprooted by war, violence and persecution”, he said.

“My initiative will have a strong basis in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the world’s blueprint for peace and prosperity on a healthy planet,” he said, noting that excessive spending on weapons drains resources for sustainable development.

He said more than 1.7 trillion dollars was spent in 2017 on arms and armies – the highest level since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

According to him, the figure was around 80 times the amount needed to meet the humanitarian aid needs of the whole world.

The UN chief warned that new technologies, when used maliciously, could help start a new arms race, endangering future generations.

“The combined risks of new weapon technologies could have a game-changing impact on our future security,” he said.

Disarmament – including arms control, non-proliferation, prohibitions, restrictions, confidence-building and, where needed, elimination – is “an essential tool to secure our world and our future,” he said.

“The paradox is that when each country pursues its own security without regard for others, we create global insecurity that threatens us all,” Guterres stressed.

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