International Day Against Nuclear Tests

August 29 is the International Day Against Nuclear Testing since the unanimous adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution in 2009 to raise awareness on the dangers of nuclear weapons testing and pursuing peace and security for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

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Much credit goes to Kazakhstan for closing the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site where over 456 explosions caused irreparable contamination and suffering for the people. As a result of their efforts, President Gorbachev took unilateral action by establishing a moratorium on nuclear testing on October 5, 1991.

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Photo credit: sputniknews.com

This was swiftly followed by nuclear testing legislation in the United States where the last explosion took place on September 23, 1992.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Multilateral negotiations on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) were launched by President Clinton and gained traction and wide-scale public support thanks to protests over testing by France and China. The treaty to be open for signature on September 23, 1992. The CTBT will enter into force when China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States ratify it.

The CTBT is an important step forward. It prevents states with such weapons from improving existing and developing new ones and prevents other states from joining the nuclear club.  It will also provide for control, monitoring and inspections to ensure that all parties abide by the treaty.

North Korean Attack on Japan

The North Korean launch of ballistic missiles over Japan this morning risks provides a case in point. During the Cold War the nuclear threat came from two fronts. The threat is now multi-polar and escalating.

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Photo credit: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

The attack should serve as a warning to the international community and the public at large that pressing ahead for the ratification of the CTBT and achieving a world free of nuclear weapons are important priorities that deserve our attention.

 

 

 

Obama Hiroshima visit and hopes for a nuke-free world

Following the April trip to Hiroshima by John Kerry, the scene is set for the first visit of a US President to the sites where America dropped the bomb in August 1945. Having taken the world into the atomic age, America has a special obligation to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

2B1BDF6F00000578-0-image-m-45_1438771097176Tomorrow’s visit (May 27) will be a side-trip to the G7 summit hosted by Japan and is already perceived as a major success for the Japanese Prime Minister and a show of strength of Japanese-American relations in the face of an increasingly assertive Chinese presence in the region. Surely, it will do nothing to appease the Chinese and South Korean grievances for Japanese atrocities inflicted on them in the first half of the 20th century.

In 2009 already, Obama said that achieving a world without nuclear weapons is fundamental for American security and for peace in the world. During the cold war nukes could have erased the world as we know it in a flash of light. Today the cold war is over but the legacy of thousands of nuclear weapons remains with the paradox of a higher risk of a nuclear attack occurring. With the proliferation of nuclear secrets and technology, more countries have nuclear weapons and it is easier for terrorist groups to gain access to them.

President Obama is right that global peace and security demands ridding the world of nuclear weapons and that America has a moral responsibility to lead. How much can be achieved without inflaming existing tensions remains to be seen. Obama’s legacy on peace could be in the making here. With much criticism already voiced back home and more coming from North Korea, we will find out soon enough.

Links of Interest:

Lawyers for a Nuclear Free World

States with Nuclear Weapons

Of Science and Human Values in the Nuclear Age

Parliamentarians for Nuclear Disarmament

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Huffington Post: Time To Engage In Nuclear Disarmament