U.S. And Russia at 'Colossal' Danger of Conflict, Mikhail Gorbachev Warns: 'Nuclear Weapons Must Be Destroyed'

Former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that tensions between nuclear powers is putting the whole world at risk, calling for all weapons of mass destruction to be outlawed by the international community.

Speaking with the BBC, the last leader of the Soviet Union warned that the U.S. and Russia remain in a state of conflict even though the Cold War ended some 30 years ago.

This confrontation—which he described as "chilly, but still a war"—is among the greatest threats to global security, the 88 year old suggested.

"Look at what's happening—in different places there are skirmishes, there are shootings," he explained. "Ships and aircraft are being sent here, there and everywhere. This is not a situation we want."

While in power, Gorbachev worked with U.S. leaders to limit nuclear proliferation and soothe Cold War tensions between Washington and Moscow.

Among his landmark achievements was the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which banned ground-launched nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges from 310 miles 3,417 miles.

This forced the U.S. and Soviet Union foes to remove some 2,700 short- and medium-range missiles from the battlefield.

President Donald Trump announced earlier this year that the U.S. would leave the treaty, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of repeatedly violating its terms.

Russia has now also ditched the agreement, raising fears of a new arms race in Europe. Both Trump and Putin have increased weapons spending, believing a strong military is required in order to achieve their respective national visions.

Gorbachev was also involved in the 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, through which the U.S. and Soviet Union gave up tactical or "battlefield" nuclear weapons, as well as the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which limited the superpowers to 6,000 nuclear weapons arming 1,600 intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers.

The statesman has maintained his opposition to nuclear weapons, and told the BBC that true global security will remain elusive unless they are destroyed. "As long as weapons of mass destruction exist, primarily nuclear weapons, the danger is colossal," he explained.

"All nations should declare—all nations—that nuclear weapons must be destroyed," Gorbachev added. "This is to save ourselves and our planet."

There are currently around 3,750 active nuclear weapons on the planet, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, alongside another 10,115 inactive warheads.

The vast majority of the active warheads belong to the U.S. (1,750) and Russia (1,600), SIPRI said. The rest are spread between the remaining nuclear powers—the U.K., China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Russia, ICBM, nuclear weapons, US, war
A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system rides through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia on May 9, 2017. NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images/Getty