Sep 26, 2022 - World

UN chief calls for end of "nuclear blackmail"

United Nations  Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking before the General Assembly on Sept. 20.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres speaking before the General Assembly on Sept. 20. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres condemned "the rattling of nuclear sabers" and called for the end of "nuclear blackmail" in a speech on Monday.

Why it matters: Guterres' call comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin made a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons last week, though the UN chief did not specifically name Russia or Putin.

  • Guterres was speaking at an event to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

What he is saying: "Now, decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we can hear once again the rattling of nuclear sabers," Guterres said.

  • “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," he added.
  • “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."
  • “Without eliminating nuclear weapons, there can be no peace. There can be no trust. And there can be no sustainable future."

Csaba Kőrösi, president of the UN General Assembly, said at the same event that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has increased the risks of global nuclear disaster.

  • “I am particularly appalled by the recurring, thinly veiled threats of nuclear strikes," Kőrösi said. "Tactical strikes, it is often added, but we all know that such a conflict would never stay at the tactical level."

The big picture; Russia's President Vladimir Putin last week vowed to use "all the means at our disposal" to protect Russia throughout its invasion of Ukraine while announcing a "partial" mobilization for the war.

Go deeper: U.S. officials warn the Kremlin over nuclear weapons talk

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