Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin represented in Neapolitan Nativity statues Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB /LightRocket via Getty Images

Weapons of Male Destruction

With some 15,000 nuclear warheads around the world, the chances of a catastrophic conflict are frighteningly high, and the risk is compounded by dangerously impulsive men who have their fingers on the button. The only way to guard against total destruction is to take the weapons away from those bragging about their willingness to use them.

GENEVA – As an advocate for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I don’t have the luxury of mincing words. There are an estimated 15,000 nuclear warheads scattered around the world, and eliminating them means speaking truth – and often hard truths – to power. In that spirit, let me be unequivocal: today’s leaders are too emotionally unstable to be trusted with the world’s nuclear stockpile.

As I told the Nobel committee last year when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of my organization, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, nuclear arms are a “madman’s gun held permanently to our temple.” And it is mad men with their fingers on the trigger.

For reasons that I cannot fathom, nuclear weapons have been coopted as symbols of male power. In recent months, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump have publicly bragged about the “size” of their buttons and the robustness of their arsenals. Not to be outdone, Russia’s Vladimir Putin used his annual address to his country’s parliament to assert that Russia actually has the most potent nuclear weapons of all. He supported his braggadocio with fanciful animations imagining just how “invincible” his missiles might be.