US, Russia spar at UNGA amid global call for nuclear disarmament

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The US has accused Russia of nuclear threat in the ongoing war against Ukraine and showed concerns at the February statement by President Vladimir Putin regarding its willingness to resume nuclear explosive testing in the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

“Nuclear rhetoric from the Russian Federation over the past 18 months is concerning, particularly the February statement by its President regarding its willingness to resume nuclear explosive testing. Such a statement runs counter to Moscow’s commitment to the CTBT,” said Bonnie Denise Jenkins, US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

She underscored, also underlining the need to provide adequate resources for the long-term sustainment of the International Monitoring System.

Russia hit back at the US saying it is the only State that has used nuclear weapons and holds the lead in the number of nuclear tests conducted. It has kept open the question of a return to testing for years and for this reason has not ratified the Treaty.

“Against this background, we do not recognize Washington’s right to speak with any accusations against us or demand any clarification from us,” said Dmitry V Glukhov, Russian representative.

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However the non-nuclear powers Ukraine and Kiribati accused the Russia and US respectively of double standards.

‘Russian Federation’s seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and repeated shelling and militarization of the illegally occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its announced development of non-strategic nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus and the suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty,” said Serhi Dvornyk, Ukrainian delegate.

He added all responsible Member States must not fall for the Russian Federation’s nuclear blackmail and must consolidate their actions to ensure reliable deterrence and prevent that country’s further erosion of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture.

The representative from Kiribati shared its past experience of other powerful countries such as USA and United Kingdom carrying nuclear tests in the island nation.

“The citizens of our country experienced the tragic legacy of 33 nuclear tests carried out by the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s,” said Teburoro Tito.

He added “Our people were not provided with proper individualized protective gears but advised to take shelter in open spaces with tarpaulin cover spread over them and warned to cover their eyes with their hands.”

“Many of these people complained sometime later about “all sorts of untreatable illnesses and health complications,” most of which resulted in death. There were numerous cases of cancer, congenital disabilities, and abnormalities with new born babies. To this day, people continue to suffer,” he noted.

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