Gorbachev warns world in 'colossal' danger from nuclear weapons

Former Soviet leader says 20th-century rivalry between Russia and US replaced by new state of permanent war.

    Gorbachev is regarded as a main player behind ending the nuclear arms race with the United States [Alain-Pierre Hovasse/EPA]
    Gorbachev is regarded as a main player behind ending the nuclear arms race with the United States [Alain-Pierre Hovasse/EPA]

    Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says the world is in "colossal" danger from nuclear weapons held by global powers amid continued tensions since the end of the Cold War.

    The last head of the Soviet Union won the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty with Ronald Reagan that US President Donald Trump pulled out of this year.

    Gorbachev's decision not to send the Soviet army into East Germany when the Berlin Wall fell in 1991 was seen as crucial to preserving peace during the Cold War. But he remains a hated figure for many Russians for allowing the Soviet empire to collapse.

    The 88-year-old told the BBC in Moscow the world was not safe despite past arms limitation efforts.

    "While there are weapons of mass destruction, and especially nuclear ones, it is [in] colossal danger," Gorbachev said in an interview aired Monday.

    "All people have to clearly state - all people - that nuclear weapons must be destroyed. This way we will be saving ourselves and the planet."

    He said the 20th-century rivalry between Moscow and Washington has been replaced by new challenges that put the world in a state of permanent war.

    "It's a cooled-down one, but it's a war," he said with a laugh. "The atmosphere is all wrong."

    Gorbachev has turned into a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his strong-arm approach to domestic politics and international affairs.

    Putin has massively boosted military spending and is focused on developing new nuclear arms.

    A Berlin Wall special with Gorbachev and George HW Bush

    Frost Over the World

    A Berlin Wall special with Gorbachev and George HW Bush

    SOURCE: AFP news agency