The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons may have pushed 122 countries to sign the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons treaty, but a top UN security expert says "the risks of nuclear war are particularly high now, and the risks of the use of nuclear weapons … are higher now than at any time since World War II." Renata Dwan, director of the UN Institute for Disarmament Research, told reporters from Geneva on Tuesday that the "urgent" issue should be getting more attention, reports Reuters. She noted every state with nuclear weapons has nuclear modernization programs in progress. Dwan also described new technologies and new types of war transforming the arms control landscape amid heavy competition between the US and China.
"How we act on that risk and the management of that risk seems to me a pretty significant and urgent question that isn't reflected fully in the [UN] Security Council," Dwan said. So far, the nuclear ban treaty has been ratified by 23 UN member states—most don't have nuclear weapons—of the 50 needed for it to take effect, per the Hill. The US, Russia, and China, strongly oppose the ban with Defense One describing much uncertainty, and sometimes secrecy, among them. Indeed, a recent PAX report found $116 billion in active contracts between governments and the private sector to design, build, and maintain nuclear arsenals—a figure likely understated, per the Intercept, which reports America's nuclear modernization program is expected to cost $1.2 trillion by 2050. (We're the closest ever to apocalypse, according to the Doomsday Clock.)