U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the world’s leaders Tuesday that the threat of a nuclear attack is at its highest level since the end of the Cold War and “fiery talk can lead to fatal misunderstandings.”
In his first state-of-the-world report since taking the reins of the United Nations on Jan. 1, Guterres put “nuclear peril” as the leading threat warning that “we must not sleepwalk our way into war.”
The U.N. chief told presidents, prime ministers and monarchs at the opening of the General Assembly’s annual ministerial meeting that millions of people are living in fear “under a shadow of dread cast by the provocative nuclear and missile tests” of North Korea.
His message on “fiery” rhetoric was implicitly directed at North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, but also at the United States and President Donald Trump, who has warned of “fire and fury” if North Korea does not back down.
Guterres said a solution to the North Korea must be political and stressed to leaders: “This is a time for statesmanship.”
Beyond the nuclear threat, Guterres painted a grim picture of a troubled world facing grave challenges with many people “hurting and angry” because they “see insecurity rising, inequality growing, conflict spreading and climate changing.”
“Societies are fragmented,” he said. “Political discourse is polarized. Trust within and among countries is being driven down by those who demonize and divide.”
“We are a world in pieces,” Guterres said. “We need to be a world at peace.”
But Guterres said there are seven threats and tests that stand in the way: nuclear peril, terrorism, unresolved conflicts and systematic violations of international humanitarian law, climate change, rising inequality, unintended consequences of innovation, and people on the move.
These issues are expected to dominate the six-day meeting. But on day one the spotlight is expected to be on Trump and French…