International Day against Nuclear Tests

International Day against Nuclear Tests

In December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests (see also UN Website). This day was proposed by Kazakhstan as it marks both the closure of the former Soviet Semipalatinsk Test Site in 1991 in modern-day Kazakhstan and the date of the first Soviet nuclear test conducted there in 1949.

According to the resolution establishing it, the International Day against Nuclear Tests aims to prevent more of the “devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people and the environment” caused by nuclear testing. Over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted since the very first nuclear explosion, the Trinity test on 16 July 1945 in New Mexico, United States. Together, the fallout from these tests dwarfed the amount of radioactivity released into the environment from any nuclear accident.

The servicemen involved and people living close to the test sites often paid with their health, some even with their lives; see chapter effects of nuclear testing. Some of the world’s over 60 nuclear test sites (see interactive map) continue to be contaminated.

Nuclear testing also poisoned the political environment, leading to an arms race with ever more destructive weapons. The largest tests, the 1954 Castle Bravo test and the 1961 Tsar Bomba had an explosive power of around 1,000 and 4,000 Hiroshima bombs, respectively.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the international instrument to end all nuclear testing in a verifiable way. Nuclear testing has essentially screeched to a halt with the adoption of the CTBT in 1996, which forged an international zero-tolerance stance against nuclear testing: The handful of nuclear tests conducted after 1996 (by India, Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea - DPRK) received universal condemnation and unanimously adopted UN Security Council sanctions.

Currently 183 States have signed the Treaty and 162 have ratified it (see interactive map). However for the CTBT to enter into force, eight States - from a list of 44 defined as nuclear technology holders - have yet to ratify to meet the Treaty’s stringent entry into force requirement: China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

On 27 September 2013, Foreign Ministers from CTBT Member States gathered at UN headquarters in New York for a conference, called the Article XIV Conference, to promote the CTBT's entry into force. In the margins of the UN General Assembly's high-level segment in September 2014, Foreign Ministers will gather again to adopt a joint statement on the CTBT.

On this International Day Against Nuclear Tests, the international community reaffirms its commitment to secure the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would prohibit all nuclear explosions. This would mark a welcome step toward a world without nuclear weapons.Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Message for the International Day against Nuclear Tests 2014

2014 Events

To commemorate this year's International Day against Nuclear Tests, the UN General Assembly in New York, United States, held a special meeting on 10 September 2014, see remarks by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and by UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane.

“To test such weapons is to play with proverbial fire, takes us further down the treacherous path we seek to avoid and damages both human health and the environment.” Charles Thembani Ntwaagae, UN General Assembly Vice-President

In Washington D.C, United States, the Embassy of Kazakhstan and the Arms Control Association will host an event entitled “Nuclear Weapons Testing: History, Progress, Challenges” on 15 September in which Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo will participate. Other speakers will include U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz; U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Rose Gottemoeller; and U.S. Under Secretary of Energy and Administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, Frank Klotz.


At the UN Vienna, the "Doomtown" painting series by Doug Waterfield, Professor of Art University of Nebraska at Kearney, United States, was shown at the Vienna International Centre's Rotunda from 25 to 29 August.

The exhibition also featured material by Kazakhstan’s ATOM Project, the international campaign to create awareness about the human and environmental devastation caused by nuclear testing. A reception event hosted by the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the CTBTO marked the International Day on 29 August 2014.