By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) on Wednesday strongly condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's remarks perceived as a threat to unleash nuclear weapons.
“War is never acceptable and any use of nuclear weapons by Russia would have catastrophic consequences for civilians," said ICAN, the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Earlier on Wednesday, Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists in Russia, calling up 300,000 reservists to join the army for probable deployment to Ukraine, where it started a "special military operation" in February.
He also vowed to use “all means at its disposal” if Russia’s territorial integrity is in danger, which was widely interpreted as a nuclear warning to the West.
"Nuclear threats are unacceptable at any time, by anyone. President Putin's threats increase the risk of escalation to a nuclear conflict drastically. This is incredibly dangerous and irresponsible,” said ICAN executive director, Beatrice Fihn.
“Every nuclear threat forces a choice - escalation to a potential global catastrophe - or rejection of nuclear weapons completely,” she added.
The ICAN head said that the majority response to the increased threat from nuclear weapons has been to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
According to the anti-nuclear campaign group, there are 86 signatories and 66 states parties that have signed the treaty, but none of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (the US, UK, France, China and Russia), all of which are nuclear powers, has done so.
“We urge all nuclear-armed states to stand down their nuclear forces and refrain from threatening to use weapons of mass destruction,” said Fihn. “Any use of nuclear weapons would cause massive humanitarian suffering and the fallout - radioactive, economic, political, will harm people for generations.”