August 29 marks the International Day against Nuclear Tests

The world-wide observance of the fourth annual International Day against Nuclear Tests will be on Thursday 29 August 2013. The day highlights the efforts of the United Nations and a growing community of advocates, including Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and media in informing and educating on the importance of a ban on nuclear weapons testing for the achievement of a safer and more secure world.

Activities ranging from symposia and conferences to exhibits are expected to take place throughout the world to call attention to the dangers of nuclear weapon test explosions, the threats posed to humans and the environment, and the need to ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons and their testing.

The day, August 29, was chosen by the General Assembly as the annual commemoration date against nuclear tests because it marks the day in 1991 when Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan one of the largest test sites in the world, was closed permanently.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has issued a message on the forth observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests 

Fifty years ago, with the adoption of the Partial Test Ban Treaty, the international community completed its first step towards ending nuclear weapon test explosions for all time. This objective remains a serious matter of unfinished business on the disarmament agenda.

Although twenty years have passed since the Conference on Disarmament  began negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), this treaty has still not entered into force.

Today, 183 countries around the world have signed the CTBT and 159 have ratified it.  The strong and unified response to the nuclear test earlier this year by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea demonstrated the commitment of the international community to uphold the global norm against nuclear tests.  However, some States have still refrained from taking action, thus preventing the CTBT’s entry into force.

There are no justifiable grounds for further delay in achieving this great goal.  It is time to avert any more of the horrific human and environmental effects caused by nuclear tests through a global ban, the most reliable means possible to meet this challenge.

I once again urge all States to sign and ratify the CTBT without further delay. The eight remaining States whose ratifications are necessary for the Treaty to enter into force have a special responsibility; none should wait for others to act first.  In the meantime, all States should maintain or implement moratoria on nuclear explosions. I also encourage civil society, academia and others to continue to contribute their crucial advocacy.

As we mark this International Day against Nuclear Tests, let us work together to end nuclear weapons testing and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

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