International Day against Nuclear Tests - 29 August


From 24 to 28 August 2015, artworks China, Kazakhstan and the USA related to nuclear testing were on display at the Vienna International Centre. Click to view catalogue (PDF).

On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August as International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35.

The International Day against Nuclear Tests (see also website of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and statement by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon) aims to galvanize the United Nations, its Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and the media against nuclear testing. The day highlights the importance of banning nuclear tests as a valuable step towards achieving a safer world.

Poisoned groundwater, cancer, leukaemia, radioactive fallout — these are among the poisonous legacies of nuclear testing. The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future.Message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the instrument to achieve this. While the CTBT has been signed by 183 and ratified by 164 of them (see interactive map), it needs to be ratified by all 44 States identified as nuclear technology holders to enter into force. Of these, eight have yet to deposit their instrument of ratification: China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

RDS-1, the first of 456 Soviet nuclear tests at Semipalatinsk.

The resolution was originally submitted by Kazakhstan. The day marks the permanent closure of the Semipalatinsk test site by Kazakhstan on 29 August 1991. The selection of that date in 1991, in turn, was made because this was when the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear test at the site in 1949.

Event: Art exhibition in the Vienna International Centre

One of the paintings that will be on display: Smoke Beyond Peace, by Zhang Zue

From 24 to 28 August 2015, the CTBTO was displaying artworks (view catalogue - PDF) related to the issue of nuclear testing and nuclear weapons from artists from China, Kazakhstan and the United States in the Rotunda of the Vienna International Centre. The exhibition is supported the Chinese Artists' Association and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the UN Vienna. A commemorative event and reception was held on 28 August 2015 with the financial support of the Permanent Mission of China to the UN Vienna.

United Nations General Assembly event

The United Nations General Assembly held a special session to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests on 10 September 2015 opened by UN Secretary-General. CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo was one of the speakers in the session's high-level panel.

Semipalatinsk today

Despite the closure of the Semipalatinsk testing site on 29 August 1991, the region's residents are still affected by four decades of nuclear testing.

The Government of Kazakhstan is undertaking efforts to gradually restore the site, and has decided to allow the international community to use it in their efforts towards achieving nuclear disarmament. In 2008, the country made the former test site for the Integrated Field Exercise 2008, which preceded the more recent Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan.