The UN secretary-general has warned the world could be facing further conflict – as North Korea steps up its preparedness.
As the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches, Antonio Guterres said he fears the world is “sleepwalking into a wider war” with its “eyes wide open”.
He pointed to the war in Ukraine as having undermined global solidarity and trust, and urged all countries to recommit to the UN Charter, which calls for the peaceful settlement of disputes.
After experts set the Doomsday Clock at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest it has ever been to “global catastrophe” – Mr Guterres urged the general assembly’s 193 member nations to change their mindset to decision-making and look at “what will happen to all of us tomorrow – and act”.
This is instead of near-term thinking, which he called “irresponsible” and “immoral”.
“The so-called ‘tactical’ use of nuclear weapons is absurd,” he said, calling for nuclear-armed countries to renounce the first use of all nuclear weapons.
“We are at the highest risk in decades of a nuclear war that could start by accident or design. We need to end the threat posed by 13,000 nuclear weapons held in arsenals around the world.”
A new focus on reconciliation and preventing conflict, which would help to diminish current and potential threats, must start in Ukraine, where Mr Guterres said “bloodshed keeps growing”.
He also called for stepped-up peace efforts in military-ruled Myanmar and gang-led Haiti, which are facing new violence and repression.
‘Perfecting the preparedness for war’
Meanwhile, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un has pledged to toughen the country’s war readiness.
At a meeting of the central military commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Monday, discussions over the long-term issues over building up its army and major tasks for the military was held.
Referring to the Korean People’s Army, news agency KCNA reported: “There was the issue of constantly expanding and intensifying the operation and combat drills of the KPA to cope with the prevailing situation and more strictly perfecting the preparedness for war.”
This follows a threat to turn the peninsula into a “huge war arsenal and a more critical war zone,” after the country condemned army drills used by the US.
On Thursday, it cited a visit to South Korea by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin – who said the two countries would expand military drills and deploy aircraft carriers and long-range bombers – to counter North Korea’s weapons development and prevent a war.
When asked about the tensions with North Korea, Mr Austin said the US is committed to defending South Korea and promoting greater security and stability.
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