United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres issued a grim warning as 2017 drew to a close.
In a somber video address posted to Twitter on New Year’s Eve, he cautioned that the globe was on “red alert” following a year marked by deepening conflicts and “new dangers.”
“When I took office a year ago, I appealed for 2017 to be a year for peace,” Guterres said in the clip. “Unfortunately, in fundamental ways, the world has gone in reverse. ... Global anxieties over nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War, and climate change is moving faster than we are. Inequalities are growing, and we see horrific violations of human rights. Nationalism and xenophobia are on the rise.”
Facing such challenges, Guterres said he was “not issuing an appeal” but a “red alert for our world.” Only international unity and cooperation, he stressed, could now help solve these many crises.
“I truly believe we can make our world more safe and secure. We can settle conflicts, overcome hatred and defend shared values but we can only do that together,” the U.N. chief said. “I urge leaders everywhere to make this New Year’s resolution: Narrow the gaps. Bridge the divides. Rebuild trust by bringing people together around common goals. Unity is the path. Our future depends on it.”
Hours after Guterres’ message, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un issued a New Year’s Day speech, in which he spoke of a “nuclear button” on his desk, ready for use if the hermit kingdom is threatened.
“The entire United States is within range of our nuclear weapons, and a nuclear button is always on my desk. This is reality, not a threat,” he said, adding that he was “open to dialogue” with South Korea and emphasizing that “these weapons will be used only if our security is threatened.”
Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that the U.S. is “closer to a nuclear war with North Korea” than ever before.