ONE YEAR since Russia launched its full-scale, brutal invasion of Ukraine, the interim Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), Daniel Högsta, has warned that the world faces a grave risk nuclear weapons could be used for the first time since 1945.

“Russia has issued repeated overt and veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine and there is a growing risk we could see them used as a result of this war”, he said. “The likelihood exists of some miscalculation or Russia responding to some perceived threat Moscow sees. The longer Russia decides to continue its invasion and military operations, the more likely it is that nuclear weapons will become a greater part of this conflict. It’s something the world should be taking very seriously.”

Responding to President Putin’s announcement this week that Moscow is suspending its implementation of the last remaining arms control treaty with the United States, New START, Mr Högsta said: “President Putin’s decision to suspend Russia’s implementation of the New START treaty is dangerous and reckless, and needs to be widely condemned. Why President Putin has done this now is a question only he can answer, but it underlines how so-called nuclear deterrence, far from providing security, actually leaves us at the mercy of the personal decisions of leaders of nuclear-armed countries, like Putin. It is important though, to remember that crises can offer opportunities for breakthroughs – after the Cuban Missile Crisis, international negotiations led to the Partial Test Ban Treaty and then the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Högsta added: “The fact a nuclear-armed country, Russia, has used the threat from its nuclear weapons to facilitate an invasion of its non-nuclear neighbour, underlines the crucial need for comprehensive nuclear disarmament. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons [TPNW] is the only treaty that bans all nuclear activities, including nuclear threats, and it is attracting more and more support. It now has 92 signatories and 68 ratifications which is the same number as the NPT had two years after entering into force.

“The TPNW provides the framework for disarmament and the upcoming G7 summit in Hiroshima provides the perfect opportunity to kickstart a new push to eliminating these weapons. The G7 leaders, who either command nuclear arsenals or support the use of nuclear weapons, need to present a credible plan for how they intend to advance nuclear disarmament and get the leaders of the other nuclear-armed countries to the table.”

* Source: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons