UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s Message on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons pose a unique and potentially existential threat to our planet. Any use of nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian catastrophe.  Much progress has been made in reducing the dangers, but today I fear that not only has that progress come to a halt, it is going in reverse.

Relations between nuclear-armed States are mired in mistrust. Dangerous rhetoric about the utility of nuclear weapons is on the rise. A qualitative nuclear arms race is underway. The painstakingly constructed arms control regime is fraying. Divisions over the pace and scale of disarmament are growing.  I worry that we are slipping back into bad habits that will once again hold the entire world hostage to the threat of nuclear annihilation.

With last month’s expiration of the landmark Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty – or INF, the world lost an invaluable brake on nuclear war.  I strongly encourage the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called ‘New Start’ agreement to provide stability and the time to negotiate future arms control measures.  

I also repeat my call on all State Parties to work together for a successful 2020 Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. 

The Non-Proliferation Treaty remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents the concerns of many States about the growing threat of nuclear weapons.  And the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty remains a long-overdue measure.

I once again call on all States to fully implement their commitments.  I also call on those States possessing nuclear weapons to engage in the urgent dialogue needed to prevent the use of nuclear weapons and agree on near-term practical steps in nuclear disarmament.  

Nuclear weapons present an unacceptable danger to humanity. The only real way to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons is to eliminate nuclear weapons.

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