Elimination of Nuclear Weapons ‘the Greatest Gift’ World Could Give to Future Generations, Secretary-General Stresses, Marking International Day

Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks, as delivered, to the General Assembly for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, in New York today:

We come together on this international day to speak with one voice.  To stand in defence of our world — and our future.  And to reject the claim that nuclear disarmament is some impossible utopian dream.

Last month, I had the honour of visiting Hiroshima and meeting the brave survivors of the 1945 attack, the hibakusha.  Each year, their numbers grow smaller.  But their message grows louder.  Nuclear weapons are the most destructive power ever created.  They offer no security — just carnage and chaos.  Their elimination would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations.

The Cold War brought humanity within minutes of annihilation.  Now, decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we can hear once again the rattling of nuclear sabres.  Let me be clear.  The era of nuclear blackmail must end.  The idea that any country could fight and win a nuclear war is deranged.  Any use of a nuclear weapon would incite a humanitarian Armageddon.

We need to step back.  Last month, at their tenth Review Conference, the parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons came close to consensus on a substantive outcome.  Despite meaningful engagement by parties across all three of the Treaty’s pillars, this unique moment failed to result in the outcome we so desperately need.

We are disappointed — but we will not give up.  I urge all States to use every avenue of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation to ease tensions, reduce risk and eliminate the nuclear threat.  More broadly, we also need a new vision for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

My proposed New Agenda for Peace calls for meaningful disarmament and developing a common understanding of the multiple threats before us.  We need to take into account the evolving nuclear order, including all types of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery.  And we need to address the blurring lines between strategic and conventional weapons, and the nexus with new domains of cyber and outer space.

I pledge to work closely with all Member States to forge a new consensus around how we can collectively defuse these threats and achieve our shared goal of peace.

As the world comes together for the General Assembly, we have an opportunity to shape a more peaceful, trusting and sustainable future.  Without eliminating nuclear weapons, there can be no peace.  There can be no trust.  And there can be no sustainable future.  Let’s leave this year’s Assembly with a new commitment to work towards the peaceful future we all seek.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.