Secretary-General's remarks to media at Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site
Kurchatov, Kazakhstan, 6 April 2010SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen,
I have just flown over Ground Zero, standing on Ground Zero just two kilometres from the real site of nuclear tests is a very sobering experience for me.
More than 450 nuclear bombs were tested here with a terrible effect on people and nature. They have totally destroyed our environment. Poisoned earth, rivers and lakes, children suffering from cancer, birth defects.
In 1991, soon after the independence of Kazakhstan, President Nazarbayev took extraordinary leadership by closing the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site and banished all nuclear weapons.
It was a visionary step, a true declaration of independence.
Today, this site stands as a symbol of disarmament and hope for the future.
The Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia was signed here.
Now we have a good reason to believe that the promise of Semipalatinsk - the abolition of nuclear weapons - will become reality.
In just two days from now, President Dimitri Medvedev and President Barack Obama will sign a successor treaty to the START – that is really a fresh START.
Today, President Obama has announced the nuclear posture review, that is an important initiative. To lead by example, the United States would renounce the development of new nuclear weapons.
And for the first time, the United States explicitly committed not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear nations that are in compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, even if the United States were attacked.
I cannot think of a more fitting even poignant place to hear this news.
All these developments will add significant momentum to the forthcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in the United Nations [Headquarters] in May.
At next week's nuclear security summit, which will be held in Washington, I will urge the leaders of the Russian Federation and the United States, and other nuclear states leaders, to abandon all nuclear weapons.
To realize a world free of nuclear weapons is a top priority of the United Nations and the most ardent aspiration of human beings.
Here today in Semipalatinsk, I call on all nuclear weapons states to follow suit of Kazakhstan.
For inspiration, they can look to Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan has led by example.
You encouraged the United Nations General Assembly to establish August 29 as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
And you are working to help people experiencing the adverse effects of nuclear testing.
As Secretary-General, I will spare no efforts to realize, together with the whole international community, a world free of nuclear weapons.
As you may know, on October 24, 2008, I introduced my 5-point plan for nuclear disarmament.
The United Nations is working in Semipalatinsk, to restore the area, to improve the health of the people and to provide an environment for economic growth.
Again, I urge all the leaders of the world, particularly nuclear weapon states, to work together with the United Nations to realize the aspiration and dream of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Thank you very much.
Off-the-Cuff on 6 April 2010