Pres. Duterte tells UN: “all mortals at risk” with nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction

Notes rising geopolitical tensions amid COVID pandemic

President Rodrigo Duterte addresses UN General Assembly on Sept. 22, 2020 (New York time)/Screengrab of PCOO/RTVM video (Courtesy PCOO/RTVM/Malacanang)


(Eagle News) – President Rodrigo Duterte warned about the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, which he said would put “all mortals at risk.”

During his address at the High-Level General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Philippine leader said that such weapons are a concern for mankind, especially if it falls in the wrong hands.

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, this, he said, is an issue that world leaders should focus on.

“The global health crisis has further complicated the global security environment. But no aspiration nor ambition can justify the use of weapons that destroy indiscriminately and completely,” Duterte said in his first ever address to the UN body on Sept. 22.

“There is no excuse for deaths that a nuclear war could cause nor the reckless use of chemical and biological weapons that can cause mass destruction,” he said.

“These weapons of death put us all at mortal risk, especially if they fall in the hands of terrorists without a shred of humanity in their souls,” Duterte noted.

The Philippine president also called on member states of the UN to “fully implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions.”

“I have asked the Philippine Senate to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Importantly, we were among those to sign it first,” he said.

-Global flashpoints heighten fears-

Duterte also noted rising geopolitical tensions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Just as we needed stability and confidence because of the pandemic, geopolitical tensions continue to rise. Escalating tensions benefit no one. New flashpoints heighten fears and tend to tear peoples apart. When elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled flat,” he noted.

He also expressed worry that existing geopolitical conflicts could deteriorate and lead to a war involving nuclear weapons.

“Given the size and military might of the contenders, we can only imagine and be aghast at the terrible toll on human life and property that shall be inflicted if the ‘word war’ deteriorates into a real war of nuclear weapons and missiles,” Duterte said.

-Duterte: “Let us not hate each other too much”-

“I therefore call on the stakeholders in the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East and Africa: if we cannot be friends as yet, then in God’s name, let us not hate each other too much. I heard it once said, and I say it to myself in complete agreement.”

According to the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Disarmament, “the majority of states in Asia and the Pacific have long realized that disarmament and non-proliferation remain indispensable to helping create an environment favorable to peace, security and development..”

“However, the world remains awash with weapons of mass destruction. It is estimated that at the beginning of 2011, nuclear-weapon states possessed more than 20,500 nuclear warheads, more than 5000 of which are deployed and ready for use (SIPRI),” it said in its website.

The term “weapons of mass destruction” was first coined to refer to the weapons, particularly those used in World War II.

The UN General Assembly in 1977 through a resolution affirmed the definition of weapons of mass destruction as “[…] atomic explosive weapons, radioactive material weapons, lethal chemical and biological weapons, and any weapons developed in the future which might have characteristics comparable in destructive effect to those of the atomic bomb or other weapons mentioned above.”

(Eagle News Service)