Risk of nuclear weapons use high, UN chief warns

Antonio Guterres, UN chief

Guterres gave the warning in a video message at a Peace Memorial Ceremony in Japan on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

No fewer than 130,000 people, mostly civilians, died after the United States detonated a uranium bomb above Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, during World War II.

Three days later on Aug. 9, the U.S. struck again, hitting Nagasaki with a nuclear weapon that forced Japan to surrender, thus ending the war.

The UN chief stated that the formation of the UN that same year “is forever intertwined with the death rained down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki’’.

According to him, the organisation has since birth recognised the need to totally eliminate nuclear weapons, but that goal remains elusive.

“Today, a world without nuclear weapons seems to be slipping further from our grasp.

“The web of arms control, transparency and confidence-building instruments established during the Cold War and its aftermath is fraying.

“Division, distrust and a lack of dialogue threaten to return the world to unrestrained strategic nuclear competition.

“States possessing nuclear weapons are modernising their arsenals and developing new and dangerous weapons and delivery systems.

“The risk of nuclear weapons being used, intentionally, by accident or through miscalculation, is too high for such trends to continue,’’ Guterres said.

He reiterated his call on countries to “return to a common vision and path leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons’’.

He specifically reminded them of the treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been signed by 40 countries and needs 10 more signatures to go into force.

The UN chief paid tribute to the victims and survivors of the Hiroshima bombing, describing them as epitomes of “resilience, reconciliation and hope’’.

“This city and its people have chosen not to be characterised by calamity, but instead by resilience, reconciliation and hope.

“As unmatched advocates for nuclear disarmament, the hibakusha (survivors) have turned their tragedy into a rallying voice for the safety and well-being of all humanity’’, he said. (NAN)