UNODA Update

International Day against Nuclear Tests 2012

6 September 2012 — The International Day Against Nuclear Tests was observed at UN Headquarters this year on 6 September. The observance took place in the format of an Informal Meeting, convened by the President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdelaziz Al-Nasser and included a High-Level Panel organized by the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan.

Secretary-General's message to the Informal Meeting

The President of the General Assembly and Mr. Timur Zhantikin, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee of the Ministry of Industry and New Technologies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, delivered opening statements at the meeting. Video messages were played from both Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon and the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Mr. Tibor Tóth. The Observance broadly focused on drawing the world's attention to nuclear weapons abolition and the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The Secretary-General urged States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without delay. Pending the Treaty's entry into force, he urged all States to uphold the existing moratorium on all nuclear test explosions.

"While much has been achieved to bring us closer to a universally effective legally binding comprehensive nuclear-test ban, much remains to be done," the President of the Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, told the gathered delegates in his address. "The remaining effort is not necessarily scientific or financial but rather political. Stronger political commitment and true leadership are needed today more than ever," he stressed.

Mr. Al-Nasser encouraged participants to engage in constructive exchanges, not only to promote the entry into force of CTBT but also to promote progress on all parallel fronts. "Needless to say, this will require the efforts of not just governments. It will also depend on the active engagement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders who support our global cause in nuclear disarmament," he said.

Message from Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO

Mr. Timur Zhantikin, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee of Kazakhstan, said that, for his country's people — who had experienced the horrors of nuclear-weapons testing for 40 years — the question of a total ban was particularly significant. Some 490 explosions had been carried out at Semipalatinsk, and their consequences had affected 1.5 million people.

"Nuclear tests are a threat to human health and global stability. Their effects are both harmful and long-lasting," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted in his video message for the observance. He called on States that had not yet done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) without delay. Pending the Treaty's entry into force, he also urged all States to uphold the existing moratorium on all nuclear test explosions. "Let us be clear: voluntary moratoria are essential, but they are no substitute for a total ban," he emphasized, renewing his pledge to visit any State that remained unconvinced of the Treaty's monitoring systems and to address their concerns.

In his video message, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, Mr. Tibor Tóth said "Nuclear tests are poisonous, they are poisonous for people, they are poisonous for the political environment". He added that "the transparency and predictability that the test ban brings are indispensible for progress towards a world without nuclear weapons".

The official opening ceremony was followed by a High-Level Panel on the Role of the United Nations in Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

The panel speakers were:

  • Ambassador Susan Burk, Special Representative of the US President for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
  • Ambassador Jim McLay, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations
  • Ambassador Gary Quinlan, Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
  • Mr. Geoffrey Shaw, Representative of the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency
  • Mr. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

The Moderator was Dr. Randy Rydell, Senior Political Affairs Officer, Office of the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

The panelists presented their insights on how the United Nations can further promote progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and advance confidence building, including through nuclear-weapon-free zones and other relevant measures.

About a dozen representatives of Member States also addressed the gathering. A webcast is available here.

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