THE world is staring down the “loaded gun” of nuclear Armageddon, the UN’s top chief has warned amid rising tensions with Russia and China.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was visiting the Japanese city of Hiroshoma on the 77th anniversary of the first atomic bomb attack to sound the alarm.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the world was staring down a ‘loaded gun’ of nuclear warCredit: Getty
Guterres called on attendees to remember the more than 140,000 Japanese who died at Hiroshima
More than 140,000 people died when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 – obliterating the city and many of its inhabitants.
Washington D.C. would go on to drop another three days later on Nagasaki, killing more than 70,000, in a bid to bring World War II to an end.
The bombing left a scar on the Japanese psyche as hundreds of thousands of survivors were left faceless or eyeless by the horrific blast.
Guterres used the sombre address to warn that crises in Ukraine and Taiwan was edging the world closer to a nuclear abyss.
Drawing parallels with the past, he reminded attendees that “tens of thousands” died in the “hellish fire” that engulfed the very ground he was standing on in the blink of an eye 77 years ago.
“We must ask: What have we learned from the mushroom cloud that swelled above this city?”
Guterres repeated warnings he made earlier this week at a nuclear non-proliferation treaty conference in New York in which he warned that “crises with grave nuclear undertones” were spreading fast.
“Humanity is playing with a loaded gun,” he said.
He then accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of using Ukrainians as “an instrument of war”.
He said the Russian tyrant was “using his own people as instruments of war and stealing the lives and livelihoods of innocent civilians in another country”.
It comes as a top British general warned that Putin could deploy tactical nukes if his forces lose ground in Ukraine.
Sir Richard Barrons – who retired in 2016 – explained that the Russian doctrine accepts the use of small nuclear weapons as a means of “coercion”.
“It would be the first use of nuclear weapons for 77 years, breaking an enormous taboo, but this is not inconceivable to Russians if the ends justify it in their eyes,” he wrote in The Sunday Times.
Sir Richard warned the West needs to consider the fact Putin is now “likely to employ tactical nuclear weapons” if he faces being pushed back in Ukraine.
And with Ukraine expected to begin a new offensive to try to drive out the Russians, the leading general said Russia could put nukes on the table as soon as the early months of 2023.
Sir Richard wrote: “A broader Ukrainian offensive and mobilisation expected as soon as next spring could lead to battlefield successes and the liberation of land seized by Russia.
“This might create other risks.
“If Putin senses defeat, will he be tempted to use tactical nuclear weapons to change reality on the battlefield?”
Britain’s top security chief Sir Stephen Lovegrove said heightened tension between the West and Russian and China made the use of world-annihilating weapons more likely.
He said the war in Ukraine, coupled with the secretive regimes in both Moscow and Beijing, means we are “more likely to see ‘escalation wormholes’ — sudden, unpredictable failures in the fabric of deterrence causing rapid escalation to strategic conflict”.
Speaking in Washington DC at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, he said nuclear war was averted during the Cold War only because the Soviet Union and Nato were able to speak to each other with a mutual understanding which he said does not exist today.
He was speaking as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un warned that South Korea was pushing the world towards the brink of nuclear armageddon and said tensions are rising in the South China Sea over fears Beijing will invade its smaller neighbour Taiwan.
China launched a flurry of ballistic missiles that landed in blockaded Taiwan’s waters on Thursday amid huge military drills as close as 12 miles from the island’s shore.
It comes as China kicked off its largest-ever military exercises around Taiwan on Thursday in a show of force straddling vital international shipping lanes.
Taiwan has been on high alert as China conducts a series of war games in response to a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Polosi to the island this week.
The top ranking UN official used a ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing to make his stark warningCredit: Getty
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