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UN Secretary-General Says We’re Close to Nuclear Annihilation

Some of the first nuclear bombs were tested off the coast of the Bikini Atoll in July 1946.

Some of the first nuclear bombs were tested off the coast of the Bikini Atoll in July 1946.
Image: Keystone (Getty Images)

Everyday it appears that we’re spiraling closer to the apocalypse. Today, that future seems a little closer than we thought as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned today that humanity is “one misunderstanding, one miscalculation” away from being wiped off the face of the planet by a nuclear holocaust. *nervous laughter*

Members of the United Nations have kicked off the beginning of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons—a meeting to discuss the 1970 treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons across the globe. The 10th conference to review the treaty began today, and representatives from countries were greeted by an eerie warning from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wrapped up in his opening remarks.

“The clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more,” Gutteres said in his opening remarks. “We have been extraordinarily lucky so far, but luck is not a strategy, nor is it a shield from geopolitical tensions boiling over into nuclear conflicts. Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation from nuclear annihilation.”

Fun stuff. After more and more countries began building out their nuclear arsenals in the 1960’s, concern from world leaders on how these weapons may spread throughout the world grew. As a result, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was first opened for signing in 1968 and entered into force in 1970 before being indefinitely extended in 1995 under the assumption that the treaty would be reviewed at a conference every five years. The treaty, which is currently signed by 93 states, boils down to three pillars, which include preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and promoting nuclear disarmament.

The concept of an all out nuclear war has usually been the stuff of science fiction, but hearing a United Nations official seriously entertaining the possibility of nuclear annihilation makes it feel a little too real.

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