New York, Aug 2 (IANS) Politicians from around the world have gathered in New York for the 10th Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) amid heightened tensions over nuclear arms in Russia and Iran.
The UN describes the NPT as a landmark international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and to promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy, news agency dpa reported.
It is subject to review every five years, and the 10th review was to have taken place in 2020 but was postponed on account of the coronavirus pandemic.
It takes place now amid stalling negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal and Russia’s war in Ukraine.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using its nuclear weapons to intimidate and threaten by engaging in ‘reckless, dangerous nuclear sabre rattling’.
Blinken added that there is no place in the world for ‘nuclear deterrence based on force and intimidation or blackmail’.
‘We have to stand together in rejecting this,’ Blinken said.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the climate crisis, inequality, violent conflicts around the world, and the Covid-19 pandemic have placed the world under huge stress ‘at a time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War’.
‘Humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrifying fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki,’ Guterres warned.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also criticised Russia and North Korea for using nuclear weapons as threats, and Iran for ‘continuing to expand its nuclear programme’.
While calling for nuclear disarmament, she also said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown the reality of nuclear weapons into sharp focus.
‘Efforts for nuclear disarmament and nuclear deterrence are not mutually exclusive in these times,’ she said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote a greeting statement to the conference, which he is not attending in person.
‘We assume that there can be no winners in a nuclear war, and therefore one can never be allowed to start,’ Putin said in the statement.
He further gave assurances that Russia would fulfil its duties as a founding nation of the NPT.
Concerns that Russia was considering the use of nuclear weapons were fuelled by the fact that Putin placed Russian nuclear forces on high alert shortly after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.
Almost 13,000 nuclear weapons exist across the world. Even before the war in Ukraine, efforts at disarmament had been stalling.