Background

On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests through the unanimous adoption of its resolution 64/35. The Preamble of the resolution emphasizes that "every effort should be made to end nuclear tests in order to avert devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people" and that "the end of nuclear tests is one of the key means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”

The main mechanism for eradicating nuclear weapons testing is the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996. To date, 184 countries have signed the treaty and 168 have ratified it. For the Treaty to enter into Force, it must be ratified by those States with significant nuclear capabilities.

While the general consensus within the international community is that nuclear weapons tests pose life-threatening risks, there still exists to some degree a lingering suspicion of the possibility of clandestine nuclear weapons testing. There is also a concern that if nuclear weapons cannot be tested their reliability may be in jeopardy. However, over the years, advances in science and technology have exponentially boosted the capacity to monitor and verify compliance mechanisms and nuclear weapons proliferation detection. These activities and tracking tools have been initiated and developed by the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO) Preparatory Commission. Despite the stalled entry-into-force, an increasingly robust public advocacy, including activities and events undertaken on the International Day against Nuclear Tests, is exerting pressure on the powers-that-be to move forward on the ratification of the treaty with a view towards the ultimate eradication of nuclear weapons testing.  

The Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO and its 168 ratifying States vigorously continue to push for the Treaty’s entry into force. The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System, already encompassing nearly 90 per cent of States, provides confidence that no nuclear explosion will escape detection.

However, nothing can play as crucial a role in avoiding a nuclear war or nuclear terrorist threat as the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Bringing an irreversible end to nuclear explosions will prevent the further development of nuclear weapons.