Renata Dwan, director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) has stated the increased prospect of conflict is an “urgent” issue, amid growing tensions throughout the world. The senior UN security expert cites the current dispute between the US and China, who are embroiled in a trade war, as one of the main reasons for concern. Ms Dwan states countries with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernisation programmes underway and the arms control landscape is changing partly due to strategic competition.
Despite 122 countries signing a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, the threat of one being detonated remains.
The UN chief said: “I think that it’s genuinely a call to recognise – and this has been somewhat missing in the media coverage of the issues -that the risks of nuclear war are particularly high now, and the risks of the use of nuclear weapons, for some of the factors I pointed out, are higher now than at any time since World War Two.”
Traditional arms control arrangements are also being eroded by the emergence of new types of war, with increasing prevalence of armed groups and new technologies that blurred the line between offence and defence.
Earlier this year Russia and the US ended its involvement Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The agreement signed in 1987 banned both countries from using short and medium-range missiles.
The US also raised tensions with world superpowers by withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
The treaty aimed to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in return for relief from sanctions.
The nuclear ban treaty, officially called the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, was backed by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.
The treaty has so far gathered 23 of the 50 ratifications that it needs to come into force, including South Africa, Austria, Thailand, Vietnam and Mexico.
However its is strongly opposed by the US, Russia, and other nations with nuclear arms.
Ms Dwan stated the world should not ignore the danger of nuclear weapons, she added: “How we think about that, and how we act on that risk and the management of that risk, seems to me a pretty significant and urgent question that isn’t reflected fully in the U.N Security Council.”