New York

10 September 2015

Secretary-General's remarks to the informal meeting of the General Assembly to observe the International Day Against Nuclear Tests [as delivered]

Let me begin by recognizing and thanking President Nursultan Nazarbayev and the Government of Kazakhstan for their leadership in establishing this day and keeping the world’s attention on this priority issue.

The goal of ending nuclear tests has been a leading concern throughout my diplomatic career.

As Secretary-General, and depository of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, I have made achieving a legal ban on nuclear testing a personal priority.

I have been to Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, the site of 456 tests, including some of the largest in history.

I have met with victims of nuclear tests.

I have witnessed the lasting societal, environmental and economic damage nuclear tests have caused.

Since the first test in New Mexico seventy years ago, the world has endured over two thousand nuclear tests. Those tests devastated pristine environments and local populations around the world.

Many have never recovered from the legacies of nuclear testing – including poisoned groundwater, cancer, birth defects and radioactive fallout.

The best way to honour the victims of past tests is to prevent any in the future.

Today let us also send a strong signal that the international community stands united to take action that will lead us to a safer and more secure world – a world free of nuclear weapons.

The entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is an essential building block for achieving this goal.  In that regard, I take note the presence of Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of CTBTO.
The CTBT is a legally-binding, verifiable means by which to constrain the quantitative and qualitative development of nuclear weapons.

I welcome the voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by many nuclear-armed States.  But moratoria are no substitute for a CTBT in force. The three nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are proof of this. 

Almost two decades after the CTBT was negotiated, it is long past time for the treaty to enter-into-force.

On this International Day, I repeat my call on all remaining States to sign and ratify the Treaty – especially the eight necessary for its entry-into-force: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

The United Nations, working with the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, continues to stand ready to assist.

It is our shared responsibility to ensure that nuclear tests are relegated to history

Let us spare no effort to take this next critical step on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Thank you for your commitment.