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UN Chief: Nuclear Weapons Pose Catastrophic Risks


FILE - Antonio Guterres addresses a news conference at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 18, 2015.

Nuclear weapons pose catastrophic risks to human life and the environment and must be eliminated, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told delegates attending the 65-member Conference on Disarmament.

The U.N. chief unveiled a new initiative to reduce the global threat. He said the initiative will aim to prevent the over-accumulation and proliferation of weapons, work toward forging a new momentum on eliminating nuclear weapons, and examine the potential risks and challenges posed by the weapons of the future.

Guterres welcomed what he called the courageous initiatives taken by South Korea during the Olympic Games to defuse tensions with North Korea, but he says it is not enough.

"We need lasting improvements, based on the central objective of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and sustainable peace in the region," he said. "I also welcome the completion of reductions by the United States and the Russian Federation under the new START [Strategic Arms Reduction] treaty. We need further disarmament and arms control measures as a sound basis for global peace."

Guterres warned that the world is far from eliminating weapons of mass destruction, adding it is awash in both nuclear and conventional arms. Since the end of the Cold War, he said, the flourishing multibillion-dollar arms trade has supported regional conflicts.

Guterres said the nuclear nonproliferation regime is threatened by countries that falsely believe nuclear weapons make them safer. And this danger, he said, is compounded by those who are considering the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons.

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