GENEVA – The Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) said Thursday that "a year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine," the world faces the grave risk that nuclear weapons could be used.

“In the week we mark a year since Russia launched its full-scale, brutal invasion of Ukraine, Daniel Hogsta, the interim executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, warned that the world faces a grave risk nuclear weapons could be used for the first time since 1945,” said ICAN.

Hogsta said Russia has issued repeated “overt and veiled threats” to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and there is a growing risk that could happen as a result of the war.

“The likelihood exists of some miscalculation or Russia responding to some perceived threat Moscow sees,” said Hogsta. “The longer Russia decides to continue its invasion, and military operations, the more likely nuclear weapons will become a greater part of this conflict. It's something the world should be taking very seriously."

Response to Russia’s suspension of treaty

Hogsta responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement this week that Moscow is suspending its implementation of the last remaining arms control treaty with the United States, New START.

“President Putin’s decision to suspend Russia's implementation of the New START treaty is dangerous and reckless and needs to be widely condemned,” Hogsta said.

“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, leaves us at the mercy of the personal decisions of leaders of nuclear-armed countries, like Putin.”

The head of ICAN, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, said it is important to remember that crises can offer opportunities for breakthroughs, as he cited the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

After that standoff between the United States and the former Soviet Union, international negotiations led to the Partial Test Ban Treaty and then the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Hogsta said: “The fact a nuclear-armed country, Russia, has used the threat from its nuclear weapons to facilitate an invasion of its non-nuclear neighbor, underlines the crucial need for comprehensive nuclear disarmament.

“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the only treaty that bans all nuclear activities, including nuclear threats, and it is attracting more and more support.”

The ICAN head said the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons now has 92 signatories and 68 ratifications - the same number 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,” said the ICAN head.

“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.”

ICAN is a Geneva-based coalition of non-governmental organizations in 100 countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty. (Anadolu)