UN Disarmament Official Lays Out Path to Reverse ‘Dangerous’ Nuclear Trends

"Though we are living in a moment of increased confrontation and militarization, one fundamental truth remains unchanged: The only way to eliminate nuclear risk is to eliminate nuclear weapons."

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The head of the United Nations disarmament division warned Thursday of the need for urgent global action to eliminate atomic weapons, especially during the current heightened tensions between the United States and Russia – the world’s leading nuclear powers – over the latter’s thermonuclear threats during its invasion of Ukraine.

Addressing attendees of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ "ICAN Act On It" Forum in Oslo, Norway via a pre-recorded video message, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Izumi Nakamitsu linked the concept of "humanitarian disarmament" with international agreements including the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Anti-Personnel Landmine Ban Convention, and the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

"It is clear that a desire to avoid the unspeakable human suffering caused by the use of nuclear weapons is a driving force for nuclear disarmament efforts," Nakamitsu said. "Such efforts are needed now more than ever."

"Since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation just over one year ago, we have witnessed an increase in dangerous nuclear rhetoric," she noted. "There has been a further breakdown of trust among the two states with the world’s largest nuclear arsenals. In the past weeks, we have seen the suspension of inspections under the last remaining treaty limiting the size of these arsenals."

"Nuclear risk is at the highest level since the depth of the Cold War," said Nakamitsu, who highlighted "five key measures that can be taken" to "reverse current dangerous trends":

  • State parties to the TPNW should make headway in implementing their treaty and continue to forcefully advocate for its principles;
  • States that have yet to sign or ratify the TPNW should make a serious study of the treaty that takes into account its articles, its normative value, and its operation to date;
  • States that choose to remain outside the TPNW should use the avenues available to them – including victim assistance, environmental remediation, nuclear disarmament verification, and further study of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons – to make progress on nuclear disarmament;
  • States should condemn nuclear threats and blackmail and demand progress toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons – not in spite of, but precisely because of today’s deteriorating security environment; and
  • Civil society must continue to hold states – and the United Nations – accountable for living up to their promises, and for making tangible progress toward our shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

To date, 92 nations have signed the TPNW, while 68 countries are state parties to the agreement, according to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs. None of the world’s nine nuclear powers has signed the treaty.

"Though we are living in a moment of increased confrontation and militarization, one fundamental truth remains unchanged: The only way to eliminate nuclear risk is to eliminate nuclear weapons," Nakamitsu concluded. "This remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations and we will continue to work with all member states and all other stakeholders to that end."

Brett Wilkins is is staff writer for Common Dreams. Based in San Francisco, his work covers issues of social justice, human rights and war and peace. This originally appeared at CommonDreams and is reprinted with the author’s permission.

23 thoughts on “UN Disarmament Official Lays Out Path to Reverse ‘Dangerous’ Nuclear Trends”

  1. All Russia really wanted was assurences that NATO”s (U.S.) nuclear missiles would not be deployed on Ukrainian border with them. Putin had 140,000 troops on their border when he requested to negotiate with them. Stoltenburg answered by saying no negotiations with you. One can only wonder what he & Zelenshy were expecting to happen. It is probably better that Stoltenburg said no negotiations, because we saw what happened to the Minsk agreement that Russia and Ukraine signed onto. Ukraine never kept it’s commitments and then wants to join NATO which Russia said was the brightest of the red lines!!! Was Zelensky so stupid that he thought he could win a war with the best armed country on the planet, after he saw his American backers sneak out of Afghanistan..??

  2. I cringe when someone says “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” It would more accurately be stated as, “NATO provocations which were the cause of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.”

      1. Without NATO overthrowing Ukraine’s government in 2014, arming and training the Ukrainian military to be a proxy force against Russia, and threatening to move NATO right up to Russia’s borders, this whole disaster would have not occurred.

        1. All that’s true.

          But it’s also true that all that stuff happened by way of Ukraine ceasing to be a Russian imperial satrapy and becoming a US/EU/NATO imperial satrapy.

          The victims in all this are not the two declining empires trying to turn their declines around. The victims in all this are the civilian non-combatants caught in the middle of a fight which features zero “good guys.”

          1. This is a question, not an argument. Can you tell me what exactly Russia has done to have made Ukraine their imperial satrapy? Taking into account that the United States has been intervening in Ukraine since long before 2014.

          2. Russian-Ukrainian relations prior to 2014 looked like this:

            The Ukrainian regime supports anything the Russian regime does and does anything the Russian regime tells it to do. In return, the Russian regime keeps the Ukrainian regime in power with e.g. subsidized petroleum and unlimited campaign funds.

            The coup in 2014, and the events leading up that coup, were about getting the Kyiv satrapy to switch imperial masters.

          3. How is noticing the existence and actions of competing empires a “high horse?” I’ve never held that the US empire is in any way magically “better” than the Russian empire. Even when I was wearing the former’s jersey and expecting to have to fight with the latter some time, I started noticing that it was pretty much the same picture. The high point of the US empire just happened to overlap with a significant shrinkage of the Russian empire, which gave US imperialists some very big, and very stupid, ideas.

          4. If I got any calmer, I’d be dead.

            I’m sorry it bugs you so much when someone notices that the only material difference between the US and Russian empires is that the US empire was, for a brief period, more successful than the Russian empire.

            But you wanting very badly for that to not be the case doesn’t make it not the case.

          5. You notice next to nothing when it comes to anything to do with Russia. I am sorry “it bugs you so much” when you are confronted with reality as such, not as you wish it to be.
            The bottom line is:
            Even under stalin, Russia has never been anywhere near as Machiavellian as the ever so glorious part of the World of which you are a part and a prime example of.

            My views are based on writings by people like Chris Hedges, Greyzone investigative journalists and strictly factual military analytical work written by Jacques Baud, et al.
            It would take you another lifetime to come anywhere near that level.


            “A peer-reviewed paper initially approved and praised by a prestigious academic journal was suddenly rescinded without explanation. Its author, one of the world’s top scholars on Ukraine-related issues, had marshaled overwhelming evidence to conclude Maidan protesters were killed by pro-coup snipers.”

            Top Biden officials address pro-war rally led by Ukrainian Nazi supporters

          6. “Even under stalin, Russia has never been anywhere near as Machiavellian as the ever so glorious part of the World of which you are a part and a prime example of.”

            One empire being more “Machiavellian” than the other is irrelevant to the question of whether empires are empires.

          7. Especially the one that doesn’t exist or fit your baseless preconceived ideas.

            “The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.”
            ― Confucius

          8. If “I like that empire, so it isn’t an empire” works for you, well, enjoy.

            I choose to live in the real world where actual history actually happened.

          9. Well, you clearly enjoy seeing things that are not there and twisting reality to your liking.

            Camomile tea might help.

          10. But at least Russia didn’t provoke Ukraine into a civil war. I think that’s fair to note.

      2. Thomas, the reason I cringe when I hear people say “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” is because of the implications of that statement to most westerners who have been fed constant demonization of Russia for quite some time now. To these westerners the only reason Russia entered Ukraine is to subjugate the Ukrainian people to Russian rule and to steal their natural resources. And that’s just not true. Russia was sorely provoked to intervene. At least the author of this article didn’t say “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine”, but that is a phrase that is very commonly used in western media. I would be satisfied if they just said “Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.”

      3. Let’s call it what it is: “The growing conflict threatening a new world war.”

        It gets the stakes across without a bunch of partisan slap fighting about what year we started paying attention to Ukraine.

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