The General Assembly today commemorated the International Day against Nuclear Tests, with speakers underscoring the urgent need for universal adherence and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Abdulla Shahid (Maldives), President of the General Assembly, recalled that the International Day is observed on 29 August to commemorate the closing of Semipalatinsk, a nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, in 1991, and honour all those who lost their lives to nuclear tests. “Twenty-five years after adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, we must redouble efforts to promote its universalization and implementation,” he stressed, highlighting that the ongoing military confrontation in Ukraine has exacerbated the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.
Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that, although the tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was unable to reach consensus on an outcome document, States parties were united in their overwhelming support for a global ban on nuclear testing. Moreover, progress had been made on victim assistance, a focus that had grown out of the International Day against Nuclear Weapons and one that adds a human security dimension to the national and collective security perspectives. She voiced hope that the remaining Annex II States — whose ratification is required for its entry into force — will sign and ratify the Test-Ban Treaty and provide impetus for the rest of the non-Annex II States to join it.
Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, also highlighting delegations’ sincere and tireless efforts, said that four weeks of intense negotiations have laid the groundwork for real progress in the future. Noting that Dominica, Gambia, Timor-Leste and Tuvalu ratified the Test-Ban Treaty this year, he said: “With Dominica’s ratification, we have completed adherence to the CTBT in the Latin American and Caribbean region. With Timor‑Leste’s ratification, we have complete adherence in South-East Asia.”
Vivian Okeke, Representative of the Director General to the United Nations and Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Liaison Office, New York, said that, for the past six decades, IAEA has helped to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, while making nuclear science and technology available for peaceful purposes, especially to developing countries. The Agency’s recent mission to Zaporizhzhia has now set up a presence at the plant, she said, noting that IAEA has called for the urgent establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the plant.
Benetick Kabua Maddison, Director of the Marshallese Educational Initiative, said that, due to the United States’ nuclear testing and forced relocation, Marshallese have some of highest rates of cancer and diabetes in the world. “What we need most today is not only allies but actors,” he said, calling on Government leaders to recognize the dangers of nuclear weapons production and use, take responsibility for the damage such testing has inflicted and then eliminate such weapons.
Many delegations, united in their support for the Test-Ban Treaty, called on the remaining eight Annex II States to ratify it. Speakers also urged all States to abide by the moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions and to refrain from any action that runs counter to the Treaty, pending its entry into force.
The representative of Mauritius, speaking for the African Group, voiced concern about nuclear-weapon States’ slow pace in eliminating their nuclear arsenals. Pointing to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of those weapons on health, the environment and other resources, he noted that the two failed Review Conferences plunges the Non-Proliferation Treaty into “uncharted waters”, threatening its credibility.
The representative of Papua New Guinea, speaking for the Pacific Islands Forum, spotlighted the unresolved nuclear testing legacy issues in his region that continue to pose a danger to the livelihoods of the peoples there. He called on those responsible to address those issues, warning that the climate emergency and growing frequency of natural disasters across the globe has increased the risk of large-scale nuclear accidents.
Thailand’s delegate, speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), pointed to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s intercontinental ballistic‑missile launch as such a threat in his region. He reaffirmed his bloc’s position against nuclear tests, stressing that diplomatic efforts should remain the goal.
Tunisia’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, reported that the Arab States have joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, Israel violates all norms and rules set by that Treaty. He called for ridding the region of all weapons of mass destruction and urged all parties to negotiate a legally binding convention that promotes international and regional peace and security.
The representative of Argentina, speaking for the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), spotlighted her region’s commitment to the universalization of the Comprehensive Test‑Ban Treaty, noting that all States in the region have signed the instrument. Voicing concern over the rise, modernization, use and threat thereof of nuclear weapons, she underscored that use of those weapons would constitute a crime against humanity.
The representative of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, highlighted the Comprehensive Test‑Ban Treaty Organization’s verification regime. “The CTBTO has provided the world with a truly global, high-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions — something that no single country could do,” he pointed out. To strengthen the verification regime and build capacity in developing countries, the European Union, since 2006, has provided the organization with voluntary contributions of more than €29.5 million.
The General Assembly also resumed consideration of the topic “International Cooperation for Access to Justice, Remedies and Assistance for Survivors of Sexual Violence”, with various delegations speaking in explanation of vote after adoption of the resolution, which took place on 2 September. (For background, see Press Release GA/12438.)
Also speaking on the International Day against Nuclear Tests were the representatives of Kazakhstan, Austria, Ecuador, Hungary, Colombia, China, Italy, Japan, Cote d’Ivoire, Iran, Brazil, Sri Lanka, United States and Kiribati.
Speaking in explanation of vote were the representatives of Guatemala, India, Syria, Belarus, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Algeria, Brazil, Libya, Mauritania, Nigeria, Malaysia, Ethiopia and Japan.
The representatives of the Russian Federation, Israel, Ukraine, Iran and China spoke in exercise of the right of reply.
The General Assembly will next meet at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 8 September, to continue its work.