Austrian MFA: We must destroy nuclear weapons before they destroy us

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg

© APA | Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg

# 23 January 2023 09:08 (UTC +04:00)

On the second anniversary of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg gave strong warnings about the threats and use of nuclear weapons, APA reports citing Anadolu Agency.

“Threats with nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous. Not only are they completely morally unacceptable, but they also lower the inhibition threshold for others and violate international law. There is no alternative to nuclear disarmament because as long as these terrible weapons exist, they threaten all of us. We must destroy them before they destroy us,” stressed Foreign Minister Schallenberg on the second anniversary of the entry into force of the TPNW.

At the same time, the risks of a nuclear conflict or accident remain significant: Russia is threatening to use nuclear weapons as part of its war of aggression against Ukraine. Nuclear rhetoric is also intensifying on the Korean Peninsula, and tensions are rising in the South China Sea and South Asia. In all nuclear-armed states, nuclear weapons are being modernized and the signs are pointing to a new nuclear arms race, albeit with more actors than in the Cold War and thus far more dangerous.

Austria has been an international pioneer in nuclear disarmament for years. In particular, the focus is on the catastrophic humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons and the high risks of nuclear deterrence. At the 2014 Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, an Austrian initiative laid the cornerstone for the TPNW. At that time, Austria called for a ban on nuclear weapons to close any legal gap in this regard. This "Austrian Pledge", later renamed the "Humanitarian Pledge", was formally supported by more than 130 states and later formed the basis for the TPNW, which has meanwhile been ratified by 68 states and signed by 92. The first meeting of the TPNW contracting states took place in June 2022 in Vienna.