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UN Chief Guterres Issues Dire Warning on AI and Nuclear War Risks

Key Insights:

  • Guterres stresses AI’s role in raising nuclear war threats, urging nations to keep human control over nuclear decisions.
  • The UN chief calls for renewed arms control efforts as global nuclear weapon stockpiles begin to rise again post-Cold War.
  • Diplomatic talks on nuclear disarmament face hurdles, with US-Russia negotiations stalled and China yet to respond substantively to dialogue proposals.

UN Secretary General António Guterres has issued a stark warning about the growing dangers posed by the intersection of artificial intelligence and nuclear weapons. In a recorded message scheduled to be shown at the US Arms Control Association’s (ACA) annual meeting in Washington, Guterres stressed that humanity is on a precarious edge, facing risks not seen since the Cold War era. He emphasized that AI technology significantly amplifies the threat of nuclear conflict, urging nuclear-armed states to adopt measures that prevent machines from making critical decisions about nuclear weapon use.

Guterres underscored the urgency of reinforcing the global regime that aims to prevent the use, testing, and proliferation of nuclear weapons. He highlighted the weakening of existing arms control agreements, notably with the looming expiration of the 2010 New Start accord between the US and Russia. This treaty, the last remaining agreement limiting the strategic arsenals of the two major nuclear powers, is set to expire in approximately 600 days, adding to the urgency of his call.

Persistent Threats and Calls for Human Control

The UN Secretary General pointed to increasing threats from nations with nuclear capabilities. Moscow has frequently alluded to the potential use of nuclear weapons, while China’s nuclear arsenal, although smaller than those of the US and Russia, continues to grow. 

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Guterres expressed concern over the maintained high-alert status of intercontinental ballistic missiles in the US and Russia, which remain ready for launch within minutes. Integrating AI into these systems could streamline launch procedures, raising the higher stakes.


In his address, Guterres called on all nuclear-armed countries to agree that decisions regarding nuclear weapon use must be made by humans, not algorithms or machines. This appeal follows a joint statement made two years ago by the US, UK, and France, advocating for the maintenance of human control over nuclear launch decisions. However, Russia and China have yet to issue similar declarations.

Declining Nuclear Weapons, Rising Stockpiles

According to the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), the global number of nuclear weapons has significantly declined from a peak of approximately 70,300 in 1986 to an estimated 12,100 in 2024. Despite this reduction, the total military stockpile of warheads available for use has risen after years of decline post-Cold War. This resurgence underscores the continuing threat posed by nuclear weapons.

Guterres reiterated the responsibility of nuclear-armed states to lead efforts toward disarmament. He called for a resumption of dialogue and a commitment to preventing the use of nuclear weapons. Specifically, he urged the United States and Russia to re-engage in negotiations, fully implement the New Start treaty, and agree on a successor to this crucial accord.

Diplomatic Efforts and Stalled Discussions

Efforts to advance arms control and non-proliferation have faced significant challenges. Last year, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan offered to engage in talks without preconditions to negotiate a new agreement to replace New Start. However, the Kremlin rejected this offer. Guterres’s plea for renewed dialogue between the US and Russia comes from these stalled diplomatic efforts.

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Additionally, Guterres repeated his earlier appeals for nuclear powers to reaffirm a moratorium on nuclear testing and agreed not to be the first to use nuclear weapons. This call to action aligns with China’s recent “no first use” treaty suggestion. Although the US indicated its readiness to discuss this proposal, no substantive dialogue has occurred, and China has yet to respond significantly to the US’s suggestion for further talks.

The UN Secretary General’s warning highlights the critical need for renewed international efforts to address the dual threats posed by AI and nuclear weapons. As global tensions rise and technological advancements continue, the importance of robust arms control agreements and the prevention of automated decision-making in nuclear launches cannot be overstated.

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Curtis Dye

Curtis is a cryptocurrency news and analytics author with a focus on DeFi, BLockchain, CeFi, NFTs etc. He has publication skills such as SEO optimization, Wordpress, Surfer tools and aids his viewers with insights on the volatile crypto industry.

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