UN General Assembly marks International Day against Nuclear Tests

New York, 10 September 2015

At the invitation of the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesea of Uganda (statement), and organized in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan ( statement ), the General Assembly convened today to observe the International Day against Nuclear Tests (29 August), see also UN website.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

The International Day against Nuclear Tests serves as a stark reminder that, although we have made a lot of progress, the job is still unfinished.

In his statement for the International Day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said "The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future. Today let us also send a strong signal that the international community stands united to take action that will lead us to a safer and more secure world – a world free of nuclear weapons. The entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is an essential building block for achieving this goal."

In the margins of the meeting, Zerbo met with UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon to discuss advancing the CTBT's entry into force and raising awareness to that effect. Photo credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

We have a system that works, that operates, that has shown its worth. Now we are waiting for you, State Signatories, the international community, to make a decision to tell us what you want to do with this investment. If you are getting a good return on investment, why do you want to wait for another 20 years?

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo spoke ( statement ) at the high-level interactive panel on the theme “Towards Zero: Resolving the Contraditions” that followed the opening ceremony. A video recording is available at UN Web TV.

Other speakers were:

•    Kim Won-soo, Under-Secretary-General and Acting High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, UN Office for Disarmament Affairs  

•    Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State (statement)

•    Tracy Brown, Acting Director of New York Office of the International Atomic Energy Agency on behalf of Director General Dr. Yukiya Amano ( statement )

•    Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations
•    Makurita Baaro, Permanent Representative of Kiribati to the United Nations ( statement )

•    Ira Helfand, Chair, Security Committee of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Co-President, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (statement)
One evening, not long after sunset, there was a sudden flash of orange light that rushed up into a mushroom cloud high in the sky and then lit up the whole sky, bright orange...It was the nuclear test on Kititimati (Christmas Island), which is more than 4,000 kilometres away. Fish died and floated to the surface of the water and we had a feast the next day.

Statements were delivered also by Costa Rica (Spanish) , the European Union , Hungary and New Zealand (further statements will be added as they become available).
My aim, my mission in life has been to become to be one of the last victims of nuclear testing in the history of all countries...I was born without arms, but I can move, I can talk to everyone what happened.

At the initiative of Kazakhstan, the General Assembly declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35 in 2009. The date marks both the first Soviet nuclear test conducted at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in present-day Kazakhstan in 1949 and the site’s closure in 1991.

Kazakhstan promotes the CTBT's entry into force through the ATOM Project, whose Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov gave a testimony at the event.

Karipbek Kuyukov, Honorary Ambassador of Kazakhstan's ATOM Project, addressed the event

Plain and simple, the CTBT is good for U.S. & international security. It is in our interest to close the door on nuclear explosive testing forever.

Looking ahead

On 29 September, representatives of the 183 Member States of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) will convene in New York at ministerial level for the ninth Article XIV Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The conference will be jointly chaired by Fumio Kishida and Erlan Idrissov, the Foreign Ministers of Japan and Kazakhstan respectively.