There was already plenty of trouble to talk about when a major U.N. meeting on the landmark Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was originally supposed to happen in 2020.
Now the pandemic-postponed conference finally starts Monday as Russia’s war in Ukraine has reanimated fears of nuclear confrontation and cranked up the urgency of trying to reinforce the 50-year-old treaty.
“It is a very, very difficult moment,” said Beatrice Fihn, the executive director of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Russia’s invasion, accompanied by ominous references to its nuclear arsenal, “is so significant for the treaty and really going to put a lot of pressure on this,” she said. “How governments react to the situation is going to shape future nuclear policy.”
The four-week meeting aims to generate a consensus on the next steps, but expectations are low for a substantial — if any — agreement.
Still, Swiss President Ignazio Cassis, prime ministers Fumio Kishida of Japan and Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, and more than a dozen nations’ foreign ministers are among attendees expected from at least 116 countries, according to a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly before the conference.
In force since 1970, the Nonproliferation Treaty has the widest adherence of any arms control agreement. Some 191 countries have joined.
Nations without nuclear weapons promised not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed Britain, China, France, Russia (then the Soviet Union) and the United States agreed to negotiate toward eliminating their arsenals someday. All endorsed everyone’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy.
India and Pakistan, which didn’t sign, went on to get the bomb. So did North Korea, which ratified the pact but later announced it was withdrawing. Non-signatory Israel is believed to have a nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies it.
Nonetheless, the Nonproliferation Treaty has been credited with limiting the number of nuclear newcomers (U.S. President John F. Kennedy once foresaw as many as 20 nuclear-armed nations by 1975) and serving as a framework for international cooperation on disarmament.
The total number of nuclear weapons worldwide has shrunk by more than 75% from a mid-1980s peak, largely thanks to the end of the Cold War between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union. But experts estimate roughly 13,000 warheads remain worldwide, the vast majority in the U.S. and Russia.
Meetings to assess how the treaty is working are supposed to happen every five years, but the 2020 conference was repeatedly delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Challenges have only grown in the meantime.
When launching the Ukraine war in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any attempt to interfere would lead to “consequences you have never seen” and emphasized that his country is “one of the most potent nuclear powers.” Days later, Putin ordered Russia’s nuclear forces to be put on higher alert, a move that U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “bone-chilling.”
“The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility,” he said.
The events in Ukraine create a tricky choice for the upcoming conference, said Patricia Lewis, a former U.N. disarmament research official who is now at the international affairs think tank Chatham House in London.
“On the one hand, in order to support the treaty and what it stands for, governments will have to address Russia’s behavior and threats,” she said. “On the other hand, to do so risks dividing the treaty members.”
Another uncomfortable dynamic: The war has heightened some countries’ apprehensions about not having nuclear weapons, especially since Ukraine once housed but gave up a trove of Soviet nukes.
Ukraine is hardly the only hot topic.
North Korea appears to have been preparing recently for its first nuclear weapons test since 2017. And talks about reviving the deal meant to keep Iran from developing nukes are in limbo.
The U.S. and Russia have only one remaining treaty curtailing their nuclear weapons and have been developing new technologies. Britain last year raised a self-imposed cap on its stockpile. China says it’s modernizing — or, the U.S. claims, expanding — the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal.
U.S. Ambassador Adam Scheinman, the presidential special representative for nuclear nonproliferation, said Washington hopes for a “balanced” outcome that “sets realistic goals and advances our national and international security interests.”
The Associated Press sent inquiries to Russia’s U.N. mission about Moscow’s goals for the conference. There was no immediate response.
In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said his country wants to work toward improving global nuclear governance and upholding the international order and will “firmly safeguard the legitimate security and development interests and rights of China and the developing world.”
If the world can’t speak with one voice, disarmament advocates say a strong statement from a large group of countries could send a meaningful message.
In recent years, frustration with the Nonproliferation Treaty catalyzed another pact that outright prohibits nuclear weapons. Ratified by more than 60 countries, it took effect last year, though without any nuclear-armed nations on board.
At a recent meeting in Vienna, participating countries condemned “any and all nuclear threats” and inked a lengthy plan that includes considering an international trust fund for people harmed by nuclear weapons.
Fihn, whose Geneva-based group campaigned for the nuclear ban treaty, hopes the vigor in Vienna serves as inspiration — or notice — for countries to make progress at the U.N. conference.
“If you don’t do it here,” she said, “we’re moving on without you elsewhere.”
England beat Germany 2-1 in the final of the European Championship after extra time on Sunday to win its first major women’s soccer title.
Chloe Kelly scored the winning goal on a rebound in the second half of extra time after Germany failed to clear a corner. The game had finished 1-1 after 90 minutes at Wembley Stadium with Lina Magull for Germany canceling out Ella Toone’s goal for England.
After the final whistle, the England players danced and the crowd sang their anthem “Sweet Caroline.” The good-natured atmosphere inside the stadium Sunday drew contrasts with the violent scenes when the England men’s team lost its European Championship final to Italy at the same stadium a year ago.
“I always believed I’d be here, but to be here and score the winner, wow. These girls are amazing,” said Kelly, who returned from a serious knee injury in April. “This is amazing, I just want to celebrate now.”
Kelly took her shirt off to celebrate her goal, earning a yellow card but also a shout-out from Brandi Chastain, who celebrated in similar style when her penalty kick won the World Cup for the U.S. in 1999.
“Enjoy the free rounds of pints and dinners for the rest of your life from all of England. Cheers!” Chastain wrote on Twitter.
The tournament-record crowd of more than 87,000 underlined the growth of women’s soccer in Europe since the last time England and Germany played for a continental title 13 years ago.
On that occasion, Germany surged to a 6-2 win over an England team that still relied on part-time players. Two years later, England launched its Women’s Super League, which has professionalized the game and grown into one of the main competitions worldwide.
That has meant increasing competition for Germany, which was a pioneering nation in European women’s soccer and increasingly faces well-funded rivals in England, Spain and France. England’s title comes 56 years after the nation’s only major men’s title which was also an extra-time win at Wembley over Germany at the 1966 World Cup.
Wiegman remains unbeaten in 12 games as coach at the European Championships after winning the tournament first with the Netherlands and now with England. One of her first moves after England won was to share a hug with 35-year-old midfielder Jill Scott, the only remaining player on either team from England’s 2009 loss to Germany.
The game was refereed by Ukrainian Kateryna Monzul, who fled her home country after Russia invaded. One of Europe’s leading referees, Monzul left her home in Kharkiv, a major city that has been heavily bombarded by Russian forces — and spent five days living in a basement at her parents’ house before leaving the country and eventually living and working in Italy.
Востаннє морську доктрину в РФ оновлювали влітку 2015 року на тлі анексії Криму та розширення НАТО.
«Якщо всі подробиці будуть завершені до завтра, здається, існує висока вірогідність того, що перше судно вийде з порту завтра»
«Воєнна розвідка постійно моніторить усе, що пов’язано з повітряним простором окупованих територій, півострова Криму, Чорного моря»
«Ворог не ризикнув проводити день ЧФ РФ, а щоб укотре не зганьбитися перед всім світом, побоюючись Збройних сил України, вигадав привід, щоб відмінити заходи з нагоди так званого свята»
«Його дедалі більші й безпідставні звинувачення Заходу в задумах щодо Білорусі й України, ймовірно, свідчать про те, що він став майже повністю залежним від Росії»
Парламент Чорногорії закликає владу Росії «терміново зупинити воєнні дії й акт агресії»
«Поступово до населення Криму це доходить. Ми реально відслідковуємо ті питання, які стосуються суспільних таких настроїв»
Hundreds of people from the Nigerian community of the central Italian city of Civitanova Marche took to the streets Saturday to protest the slaying of a Nigerian street vendor.
The killing was caught in cellphone video, but no one intervened to stop the slaying of the disabled man.
Police say an Italian man, Filippo Claudio Giuseppe Ferlazzo, 32, has been arrested in connection with the brutal beating of Alika Ogorchukwu, a 39-year-old husband and father.
The footage of the incident shows Ferlazzo using the vendor’s crutch to strike him down. Ogorchukwu had lost his job as a laborer after being hit by a car. He needed to use a crutch to walk after the accident.
The street vendor was unable to get up after Ferlazzo attacked him, the video shows, because the Italian man used his weight to keep Ogorchukwu down.
“The aggressor went after the victim, first hitting him with a crutch,” police investigator Matteo Luconi said at a press conference. “He made him fall to the ground, then he finished, causing the death, striking repeatedly with his bare hands.”
An autopsy has been ordered to determine the cause of Ogorchukwu’s death.
“My condemnation is not only for the [crime], but it is also for the indifference,” Civitanova Marche’s mayor, Fabrizio Ciarapica, told Sky News.
“A father was killed in an atrocious and racist way while passersby took video without stopping the aggressor,” said former Premier Matteo Renzi. He urged people to reflect “on what we are becoming.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called Saturday for the evacuation of eastern Donetsk province, the region that has seen the fiercest fighting as Russia seeks to fully control it.
Hundreds of thousands of people, including children and the elderly, remain in combat zones of the larger Donbas region, which includes Donetsk and Luhansk. It is also the region where Ukrainian prisoners of war died in a missile attack earlier this week.
Zelenskyy made the announcement Saturday during his nightly video address to his nation.
“The more people leave [the] Donetsk region now, the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill,” he said, adding that residents who left would be given compensation, he said according to Reuters.
Zalenskyy promised logistical support to persuade people to leave.
“Many refuse to leave but it still needs to be done,” the president said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still remain in the combat zones in Donbas. Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”
Earlier Saturday, Ukraine demanded that Russia be held accountable for a missile attack that killed dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war at a Russian-operated detention facility in eastern Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government on Saturday called on the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to immediately investigate Friday’s attack.
With international outrage building over the missile strike, the United Nations pledged support to help investigate the prison attack.
“In relation to the recent tragedy at the prison in Olenivka, we stand ready to send a group of experts able to conduct an investigation, requiring the consent of the parties,” said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the U.N. secretary-general in a statement released Saturday.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of carrying out the attack. Neither claim could be independently verified. So far, no international aid organizations have been granted access to the bombed-out site. The Red Cross requested access to help evacuate the wounded.
In a statement Sunday, Russia said it has invited United Nations and Red Cross experts to investigate the deaths at the prison, according to Reuters.
The statement from the defense ministry said it was acting “in the interests of conducting an objective investigation” into what it called an attack on the prison earlier in the week.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said 40 prisoners were killed and 75 were wounded at the detention facility located in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region. Russia insisted Ukraine used American-made weapons to hit the prison to prevent its own fighters from surrendering to Russian forces.
Ukraine’s armed forces disputed the claim and said Russian artillery targeted the prison camp to hide the mistreatment of the prisoners.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack a deliberate Russian war crime and a mass murder of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The Ukrainian army is trying to get the bodies of those killed returned, but Russia has only released the names of the dead.
Meanwhile, fighting raged on as Ukraine’s military claimed its forces killed more than 100 Russian soldiers in the southern area of Kherson. Military officials Saturday said its forces bombed railway and road bridges inside Russian controlled territories.
Russia announced Saturday its forces killed more than 130 elite Ukrainian soldiers aboard a train in the Donbas region last week and were making gains in other locations on the battlefield.
In other developments, the first ship loaded with Ukrainian grain is set to sail from the Black Sea port of Chornomorsk.
Last week Russia and Ukraine agreed to unblock grain exports from Black Sea ports, which have been threatened by Russian attacks since the invasion. The blockade of grain in Ukraine, one of the world’s biggest exporters, has led to sharp increases in global food prices.
Grain shipments from the country were allowed to resume after a U.N. brokered agreement was signed in Turkey last week.
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and mentioned the importance of Russia following through on the agreement.
Blinken also warned of consequences should Moscow move ahead with suspected plans to annex portions of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.
Раніше в інтерв’ю агентству Reuters папа Римський Франциск заявив, що хотів би відвідати Київ і Москву після своєї поїздки до Канади
Відновлювати лікування з огляду на відсутність у Джо Байдена симптомів хвороби не планують
Представник ООН Фархан Хак заявив, що у разі згоди обох сторін ООН готова направити туди експертів
«Обов’язково мають бути юридичні кроки з боку світової спільноти щодо держави-терориста»
Iran has arrested a Swedish citizen on espionage charges, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday, after a court in Stockholm sentenced a former Iranian official for war crimes earlier this month.
Iran has arrested dozens of foreigners and dual nationals in recent years, mostly on espionage and security-related accusations. Rights groups call that a tactic to win concessions from abroad by inventing charges, which Tehran denies.
“The suspect had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of (their) suspicious behavior and contacts,” IRNA quoted the Iranian intelligence ministry statement as saying.
It did not give a name or say when the arrest was made but added that the suspect had a history of going to the Palestinian territories, went to non-tourist destinations in Iran, and contacted people, including Europeans, under surveillance.
The intelligence ministry statement accused Sweden of “proxy spying” on behalf of Iran’s archenemy Israel, which it said would draw a “proportional reaction” from Iran.
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry said it was aware of the case.
A spokesperson said the case is that of a Swedish man whom the Foreign Ministry had said in May had been detained in Iran. Tehran did not report that arrest at that time.
Relations between Sweden and Iran have been difficult since Sweden detained and put on trial a former Iranian official on charges of war crimes for the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at an Iranian prison in the 1980s.
On July 14, a Swedish court sentenced the man, Hamid Noury, to life in prison.
Iran condemned that as politically motivated.
Among other foreigners and dual nationals held in Iran are Ahmad Reza Jalali, a Swedish-Iranian researcher sentenced to death on charges of spying for Israel.
Триває сто п’ятдесят сьома доба війни РФ проти України
Pope Francis acknowledged Saturday that he can no longer travel like he used to because of his strained knee ligaments, saying his weeklong Canadian pilgrimage was “a bit of a test” that showed he needs to slow down and one day possibly retire.
Speaking to reporters while traveling home from northern Nunavut, the 85-year-old Francis stressed that he hadn’t thought about resigning but said “the door is open” and there was nothing wrong with a pope stepping down.
“It’s not strange. It’s not a catastrophe. You can change the pope,” he said while sitting in an airplane wheelchair during a 45-minute news conference.
Francis said that while he hadn’t considered resigning until now, he realizes he has to at least slow down.
“I think at my age and with these limitations, I have to save (my energy) to be able to serve the church, or on the contrary, think about the possibility of stepping aside,” he said.
Francis was peppered with questions about the future of his pontificate following the first trip in which he used a wheelchair, walker and cane to get around, sharply limiting his program and ability to mingle with crowds.
He strained his right knee ligaments earlier this year, and continuing laser and magnetic therapy forced him to cancel a trip to Africa that was scheduled for the first week of July.
The Canada trip was difficult, and featured several moments when Francis was clearly in pain as he maneuvered getting up and down from chairs.
At the end of his six-day tour, he appeared in good spirits and energetic, despite a long day traveling to the edge of the Arctic on Friday to again apologize to Indigenous peoples for the injustices they suffered in Canada’s church-run residential schools.
Francis ruled out having surgery on his knee, saying it would not necessarily help and noting “there are still traces” from the effects of having undergone more than six hours of anesthesia in July 2021 to remove 33 centimeters of his large intestine.
“I’ll try to continue to do the trips and be close to people because I think it’s a way of servicing, being close. But more than this, I can’t say,” he said Saturday.
In other comments aboard the papal plane, Francis:
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Agreed that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural “genocide.” Francis said he didn't use the term during his Canada trip because it didn't come to mind. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in church-run residential schools to assimilate them into Christian, Canadian constituted a “cultural genocide.” “It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t come to mind, but I described genocide, no?” Francis said. “I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide.” Suggested he was not opposed to a development of Catholic doctrine on the use of contraception. Church teaching prohibits artificial contraception. Francis noted that a Vatican think tank recently published the acts of a congress where a modification to the church’s absolute “no” was discussed. He stressed that doctrine can develop over time and that it was the job of theologians to pursue such developments, with the pope ultimately deciding. Francis noted that church teaching on atomic weapons was modified during his pontificate to consider not only the use but the mere possession of atomic weapons as immoral and to consider the death penalty immoral in all cases. Confirmed he hoped to travel to Kazakhstan in mid-September for an interfaith conference where he might meet with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, who has justified the war in Ukraine. Francis also said he wants to go to Kyiv, Ukraine's capital, though no trip has yet been confirmed. He said he hoped to reschedule the trip to South Sudan he canceled because of his knee problems. He said the Congo leg of that trip would probably have to be put off until next year because of the rainy season.