High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day against Nuclear Tests
– As delivered –
Statement by H.E. Mr. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly, at High-Level Meeting to Commemorate and Promote the International Day against Nuclear Tests
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are here to commemorate the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
We have done that many times before.
But today is a first.
Because we are meeting in this setting, of a formal High-Level Meeting. And we have the efforts of Kazakhstan to thank for that.
In opening our event today, I will make three main points.
First, I want to point to the realities.
The last century has seen massive advancement in nuclear science and technology.
And this has led to many benefits.
But, also, indescribable pain.
And, I am not just talking about the horrific suffering of people from Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
Because, the problems do not come, only, when the bombs are detonated.
Nuclear tests began in 1945. Since then, almost 2000 have taken place. Some of which, unfortunately, happened not that long ago.
And a huge price has been paid.
By people – from cancer, disability and death.
And by the planet – from the contamination of natural resources.
Our esteemed keynote speaker, Mr. Karipbek Kuyukov, has dedicated his life to warning us about these impacts.
And nuclear tests pose another risk: a political one.
Because, simply put, these tests do not build trust. Instead, they escalate tensions. They create openings for political miscalculations. And they bring us closer to the brink.
This is the reality, when it comes to nuclear testing. And it shows why today’s meeting is vital – for our planet, and for humanity.
As my second point, I will turn to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Because, it offers us our best shot at making nuclear tests a thing of the past.
However, it has still not entered into force – more than 20 years after it was opened for signature.
We need to acknowledge the near-universal moratoria on nuclear tests. This has developed from states’ own willingness. And it should be welcomed.
And, we need to draw hope from the developments on the Korean peninsula.
But voluntary moratoria, or developments on the ground, are not enough.
We need a legally binding system; we need a clear verification mechanism; we need the CTBT to enter into force.
Here, I want to praise Thailand for its recent ratification. This is positive momentum.
But I call on the eight states, required to ratify, to do so – urgently.
For my third and final point, I will turn to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.
This time last year, things looked bleak. Tensions were high. Rhetoric was loud. And all we were speaking about were the risks.
Now, we can see the opportunity. Positive steps have been taken by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – including the suspension of nuclear tests and launches of inter-continental ballistic missiles, as well as the closure of a nuclear test site. These came through the efforts of the DPRK, the Republic of Korea and the United States, as well as other partners.
Now, I hope we see more, tangible action. Verification is crucial for progress. So, conditions must be put in place for it to happen. And, there is no doubt that signing and ratifying the CTBT would lead to progress on the Korean peninsula.
We all know that there is a long road ahead. And it will contain challenges. But we have, I hope, already taken the first steps.
We are not living in a world free from nuclear tests. But we can. If we all play our part… If we do everything we can, to see the CTBT enter into force. And if we put humanity first.
No, we are not living in a world free from nuclear tests.
But we can.
…If we all play our part. (And this goes for the governments, the UN system, and civil society alike.)
…If we do everything we can, to see the CTBT enter into force.
…And if we put humanity first.
I thank you.