UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for reversing course and returning to a common path of nuclear disarmament to create a nuclear weapon free world. The UN chief made that call in a message on the occasion of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons marked on Saturday. 

The UN committed itself in 1946, to ridding the planet of nuclear weapons after the devastating death and destruction, and the aftermath of the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was pointed out. Almost seventy five years later "the world continues to live in the shadow of nuclear catastrophe," the secretary-general said.

"Relationships between states possessing nuclear weapons are characterized by division, distrust and an absence of dialogue. As they increasingly choose to pursue strategic competition over cooperation, the dangers posed by nuclear weapons are becoming more acute."  "This International Day highlights the need to reverse course and return to a common path to nuclear disarmament. The use of nuclear weapons would affect all states, meaning that all states have a responsibility to ensure that such deadly armaments are never used again and are eliminated completely from national arsenals," Guterres said. 

"COVID-19 has exposed a wide range of global fragilities, from pandemic readiness and inequality to climate change to lawlessness in cyberspace; our preparedness to address the threat of nuclear weapons is one of those vulnerabilities. We need a strengthened, inclusive and renewed multilateralism built on trust and based on international law that can guide us to our shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons."

"Those states that possess nuclear weapons must lead. They must return to real, good-faith dialogue to restore trust and confidence, reduce nuclear risk and take tangible steps in nuclear disarmament. They should reaffirm the shared understanding that a nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. They should take steps to implement the commitments they have undertaken," the UN chief said.

"The death, suffering and destruction caused by the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki must not be repeated. The only guarantee against the use of these abhorrent weapons is their total elimination."