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Risk of nuclear war highest since WW2

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122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, partly out of frustration and partly out of a recognition of the risks

A mushroom cloud after a nuclear bomb. Picture: U.S. Army via Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum/AP

The risk of nuclear weapons being used is at its highest since World War Two, a senior UN security expert said yesterday, calling it an “urgent” issue that the world should take more seriously.

Renata Dwan, director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), said all states with nuclear weapons have nuclear modernisation programmes underway and the arms control landscape is changing, partly due to strategic competition between China and the United States.

Traditional arms control arrangements are also being eroded by the emergence of new types of war, with increasing prevalence of armed groups and private sector forces and new technologies that blurred the line between offence and defence, she told reporters.

With disarmament talks stalemated for the past two decades, 122 countries have signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, partly out of frustration and partly out of a recognition of the risks, she said.

“I think that it’s genuinely a call to recognise – and this has been somewhat missing in the media coverage of the issues – that the risks of nuclear war are particularly high now, and the risks of the use of nuclear weapons are higher now than at any time since World War Two.”

Dwan said the world should not ignore the danger of nuclear weapons.