Citing Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, Mr Guterres said he feared that crises “with nuclear undertones” could escalate.
The meeting, held at the UN’s headquarters in New York, has been postponed several times since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will run until 26 August.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany Annalena Baerbock speaks during the 2022 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations in New York City on 1 August, 2022. Source: AFP / ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
Mr Guterres said the conference was “a chance to strengthen” the treaty and “make it fit for the worrying world around us.
“Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used,” the secretary-general implored, adding that he would visit Hiroshima for the anniversary of the 6 August, 1945 atomic bombing of the Japanese city by the United States.
On Monday, America, Britain and France reaffirmed their commitment in a joint statement, saying a “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
‘Need to act’
The US leader reiterated in a statement that his administration is ready to “expeditiously negotiate” a replacement to New START, the treaty capping intercontinental nuclear forces in the United States and Russia, which is set to expire in 2026.
“And the NPT recognises this,” she added. “It’s the reason that the treaty exists. And now states, parties more than ever need to act.”
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