The UN warned that the world faces the highest level of nuclear risk in almost four decades

Nuclear test of Operation Licorne (Operation Unicorn). May 22, 1970. A 914 kiloton thermonuclear aerial explosion. Fangataufa. French Polynesia, Pacific. (Photo by Galerie Bilderwelt / Getty Images)

UN Secretary General António Guterres has warned that the world faces the highest level of nuclear risk in nearly four decades, with nearly 14,000 nuclear weapons stored around the world being activated at the push of a button. Because has called for their disappearance this Sunday, September 26, International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Guterres recalled that already in the first resolution approved by the UN General Assembly, in 1946, the will to “eliminate atomic weapons from national armaments, as well as all other weapons capable of causing significant collective destruction, was reflected.” .

“Seventy-six years later, we have not yet achieved the objectives of that resolution,” Guterres lamented in a message warning that “we are facing the highest level of nuclear risk in almost four decades.” Add that “There are about 14,000 nuclear weapons stored around the world” and “it only takes one push of a button for hundreds of them to be launched.”

While it is true that the total number of these types of weapons has decreased for decades, Guterres worries that “states are qualitatively improving their arsenals,” and are signaling “a new arms race.”

“These weapons are not a problem of the past. Today they continue to pose a threat. Despite our progress, humanity remains unacceptably close to nuclear annihilation, “he warned.

However, Guterres has acknowledged that there are also reasons for hope, such as the recent decision by Russia and the United States to extend the New START Treaty, which limits the number of strategic weapons between the two countries, as well as the willingness to enter into a dialogue.

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Another reason for hope is the entry into force in January of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. “The responsibility to build on these advances now rests with the Member States. The Conference of the Parties in charge of the Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons offers an opportunity for all countries to take practical measures to prevent the use of these weapons, and to eliminate them, once and for all ”, added Guterres. .

For the UN head, the shadow of the nuclear conflict cannot continue to be allowed to cloud efforts to promote development, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and end the COVID-19 pandemic. “It is time to end this scourge forever, to eliminate nuclear weapons from our world and start a new era of dialogue, trust and peace for all,” he concluded.

Kim Jong-un inspects the H-bomb that would later be tested
Kim Jong-un inspects the H-bomb that would later be tested “successfully” (KCNA via Reuters)

China prepares hypersonic weapons

This Sunday it became known that a team of scientists specialized in rockets from China is working on a new type of hypersonic weapon designed to generate an intense electromagnetic pulse capable of annihilating communication and electrical supply lines with a range of 3,000 km, roughly the distance between the eastern coast of China and Guam.

Unlike ballistic missiles, it would stay within Earth’s atmosphere to bypass space-based early warning systems.while using active stealth technology to avoid detection by ground-based radars, according to the team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing.

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And when the weapon explodes over the target area, there will be no lives in danger. On the contrary, the powerful electromagnetic waves produced “would cause the effective burning of key electronic devices in the target’s information network within a radius of 2 km”Said engineer Sun Zheng and his co-researchers from the Chinese Academy in an article published this month in a national magazine titled Tactical Missile Technology.

Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

Early electromagnetic pulse weapons (EMP) required a nuclear warhead to generate the pulse energy, limiting their applications, while the hypersonic EMP weapon would use chemical explosives instead, according to Sun’s team. The chemical explosion would compress an electrically charged magnet known as a “flux compression generator,” which would convert the shock energy into short but extremely powerful bursts of microwaves.

A non-nuclear high altitude electromagnetic pulse bomb is known to be heavy and bulky because it needs to carry a large number of batteries to store enough electricity to trigger the explosion. This type of bomb is usually dropped from an airplane.

Sun and her co-researchers say one of the main advantages of your new weapon is that the enemy would not know you are on your way: “When an object travels through the air at hypervelocity, the air molecules are ionized by the heat and form a thin layer of plasma on the surface of the object. The plasma layer can absorb radar signals, but not all ”.

To achieve full camouflage, the weapon designed by Sun’s team would convert ambient heat (usually temperatures above 1,000 degrees Celsius) into electricity, and use that electricity to power numerous plasma generators located in different areas of the missile body. explains SCMP journalist Stephen Chen.

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With information from Europa Press

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