Tougher actions to curb the risk of deliberate or accidental nuclear attacks must be introduced, a coalition of political, military and diplomatic figures has warned.
Ahead of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons this week, the European Leadership Network urged all states to redouble their efforts to work towards a world without nuclear weapons.
The warning comes as “insufficient” action has been taken thus far to limit the significant risks of an accidental strike by a nation state, but also because of insecure stockpiles that could be targeted by terrorist groups.
"We believe the risks posed by nuclear weapons and the international dynamics that could lead to nuclear weapons being used are under-estimated or insufficiently understood by world leaders,” said a statement issued by the European Leadership Network .
"In a vestige of the Cold War, too many nuclear weapons in the world remain ready to launch on short notice, greatly increasing the chances of an accident.”
According to the World Nuclear Stockpile Report, an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons still exist globally, whilst remaining at “unacceptably high levels” a decade and a half after the Cold War.
"This fact gives leaders faced with an imminent potential threat an insufficient amount of time to communicate with each other and act with prudence," the statement continues.
"Stockpiles of the world's nuclear weapons and materials to produce them are insufficiently secure, making them possible targets for terrorism."
As E&T news reported earlier last month, Iran tried to reach an agreement on its nuclear programme with six world powers including Russia, the US, the UK, China, France and Germany, but failed to do so.
It was agreed that a further seven-month extension to negotiate the deal be granted, due to concerns that Iran’s nuclear programme is a covert operation for weapon development. Iran denies this.