In view of numerous crises worldwide, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned of the increasing risk of nuclear annihilation.
The world is in a "time of nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War," Guterres said at the start of the NPT Review Conference in New York. "Humanity is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in the terrible fires of Hiroshima and Nagasaki". The world is just one misunderstanding or miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which is more than 50 years old and to which 191 countries have joined, forms the basis for nuclear disarmament worldwide. It states that only the US, Russia, China, France and the UK can possess nuclear weapons. The four other suspected nuclear powers India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea have either not joined the treaty or have withdrawn from it. The aim of the treaty is to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, promote nuclear disarmament and promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
A review of achievements is planned every five years. The tenth review conference was supposed to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the corona pandemic. The conference runs until August 26th. Nuclear disarmament had already faltered before Russia launched a war of aggression against Ukraine. Now the reduction of the nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons worldwide is becoming even more difficult.
Baerbock: Don't lose sight of the goal
Before leaving for New York, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned against continuing to fight for nuclear disarmament despite all the wars, conflicts and threatening gestures. "Even if this goal may seem so distant in the current world situation, we must never lose sight of this goal and must be persistent when it comes to its implementation," she said. Together with 15 other countries, Germany made 22 proposals for nuclear disarmament. If you get "even a millimeter" ahead in New York, it's worth every effort.
Guterres said on Monday that geopolitical tensions had reached a new high - citing Russia's war against Ukraine, conflicts in the Middle East, on the Korean peninsula and crises with "nuclear overtones". Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee that they will never be used. At the same time, Guterres emphasized that the peaceful use of nuclear technologies - including for medical purposes - must be promoted.
In view of the tensions and stalled negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, also called on Tehran in his speech: "We need access that is appropriate to the breadth and depth of this nuclear problem." Only then will the IAEA be able to "give the necessary and credible assurances that every activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran serves peaceful purposes."
Negotiations on a revival of the 2015 agreement between Iran and the six contracting parties - China, Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia and the USA - have been stalled since March.
Iran ready to resume nuclear talks
Iran, meanwhile, signaled on Monday its readiness to resume nuclear talks. "We have received important messages in the last few days (...) There is indeed a possibility for new negotiations soon," said foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani in Tehran. Iran definitely wants an end to the nuclear dispute and a comprehensive agreement.
Chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri also tweeted: "We are ready to bring the negotiations to a conclusion in the short term." Iran's nuclear boss also claimed again that the country could already build a nuclear bomb, but did not want to.
For Baerbock, the nuclear weapons conference is the start of a three-day trip to the United States and Canada. In addition to Guterres, the Green politician also wants to meet Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in New York. On Tuesday she will give a speech there on transatlantic relations and will travel on to Canada in the evening for her inaugural visit.