Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has issued a dire warning: "The world is preparing for war."
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And with a phone call scheduled on Saturday between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Gorbachev is urging the leaders to put a halt to a such a deadly path by spearheading a United Nations resolution that essentially bans nuclear war.
"I urge the members of the United Nations Security Council — the body that bears primary responsibility for international peace and security — to take the first step," the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner wrote in a Time magazine opinion piece this week. "Specifically, I propose that a Security Council meeting at the level of heads of state adopt a resolution stating that nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought."
Then taking direct aim at the superpower leaders, he writes, "I think the initiative to adopt such a resolution should come from Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin — the presidents of two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world's nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility."
He adds, "Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war."
Gorbachev blames poor relations among the world's most powerful countries for, what he perceives, as an increasing threat of war. "The nuclear threat once again seems real," he writes. "Relations between the great powers have been going from bad to worse for several years now. The advocates for arms build-up and the military-industrial complex are rubbing their hands."
He urges, "We must break out of this situation. We need to resume political dialogue aiming at joint decisions and joint action ... The focus should once again be on preventing war, phasing out the arms race, and reducing weapons arsenals."
Gorbachev, who enjoyed a close relationship toward the end of the Cold War in the 1980s with President Ronald Reagan, wrote that partnerships should extend beyond the common goal of fighting terrorism.
"There is a view that the dialogue should focus on fighting terrorism," he wrote. "This is indeed an important, urgent task. But, as a core of a normal relationship and eventually partnership, it is not enough. The focus should once again be on preventing war, phasing out the arms race, and reducing weapons arsenals. The goal should be to agree, not just on nuclear weapons levels and ceilings, but also on missile defense and strategic stability."