MUNICH -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that for the first time since the end of the Cold War, the world faces the “threat of a nuclear confrontation” in light of North Korea’s nuclear activities, while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the international community must apply "maximum pressure" on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear and weapons program.
Guterres and Stoltenberg made the comments on February 16 in a wide-ranging address to the Munich Security Conference, an annual gathering that draws world leaders and other top officials.
"For the first time since the end of the Cold War, we are now facing a nuclear threat, a threat of a nuclear conflict," Guterres told the gathering in the south Bavarian city.
"I'm naturally referring to the development in relation to nuclear weapons and long-range missiles by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea -- the development made in total contradiction with the will of international community and in clear violation of several resolutions of the [UN] Security Council," Guterres said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has refused to give up development of nuclear missiles in spite of increasingly severe sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.
Stoltenberg noted in his address to the conference that Munich was closer to North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, than the U.S. capital, Washington, and added that the international community must apply "maximum pressure" on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Guterres painted a grim global-security portrait, including an Israeli-Palestinian peace process that he called effectively “dead” and wars and violence across the Middle East that he said are clearly interconnected.
He said unity and multilateralism were crucial to tackling daunting global challenges, including climate change and cybersecurity.