Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that a new arms race means “the nuclear threat once again seems real” as he stated it “looks as if the world is preparing for war”.
The former Soviet leader called on Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to work together to take steps to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal.
“Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defence doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war,” he wrote in an article for Time magazine.
Mr Gorbachev said the US and Russian presidents should champion a resolution at the UN Security Council to guard against a nuclear conflict.
“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% of the world’s nuclear arsenals and therefore bear a special responsibility,” he wrote.
During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump said he was open to more countries, such as Japan and Saudi Arabia, developing nuclear weapons.
He tweeted in December: “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
In an interview with MSNBC on the same day, he said: “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
Mr Gorbachev, who detailed his own efforts at denuclearisation during the dying days of the Cold War in the 1980s, issued a stark warning of a world where weapons of mass destruction were becoming cheaper and more readily available.
“Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defence systems that undermine strategic stability,” he wrote.
He said his proposed UN Security Council resolution should state “nuclear war is unacceptable and must never be fought”.
Mr Gorbachev’s dire warning came a day after the Doomsday Clock, which symbolises the current threat of global annihilation, was moved 30 seconds closer to midnight .
The scientists warned of “accidental, unauthorised, or inadvertent nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia”, saying that the two countries had 800 warheads on high alert, ready to launch.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump admitted receiving the nuclear codes was a “very sobering moment” as well as being “very, very, very scary”.