Pressure to Push the Nuclear Genie Back in the Bottle

Human Wrongs Watch

Senior government officials will press for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) when they meet on 27 September at UN Headquarters in New York, where the treaty first opened for signature 16 years ago, Un reports. The CTBT is the only treaty to ban all nuclear tests, everywhere and by everyone. The treaty also has a unique global alarm system to detect nuclear explosions.

Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability. Graphic: CTBTO

With the combination of the treaty and its verification system, the international community has “virtually pushed the genie of nuclear explosions back in the bottle,” the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Tóth, said .

The CTBTO is tasked with building up the treaty’s verification regime so that it is fully operational when the treaty enters into force, and with promoting signatures and ratifications.

Out of a total listed number of 195 States, 183 have so far signed the CTBT and 157 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force, ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States. Of these, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States, have yet to ratify it.

A Staged Reading of the Play ‘Reykjavik’

In addition to the high-level event on Thursday, there will be a staged reading of the play ‘Reykjavik,’ followed by a panel discussion in New York City.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Rhodes, the play is a dramatic reconstruction of those two intense days of debate, drawing extensively on the actual transcripts of the meeting held in the Icelandic capital, as well as on the memoirs of both US President Ronald Reagan and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev.

The Threats of Nuclear Tests

On 29 August, Ban Ki-moon stressed the importance of a global ban on nuclear tests to achieve a safer and more secure world, calling on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the international treaty that seeks to achieve this goal.

“Nuclear tests remain a threat to human health and global stability,” Ban said in his message for the third annual International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed on 29 August.

The Day highlights the efforts of the UN 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 the nuclear-test-ban, the UN said.

The General Assembly chose 29 August as the annual commemoration date since it marks the day in 1991 when Semipalatinsk, one of the largest test sites in the world and located in north-eastern Kazakhstan, was closed for good.

Harmful, Long-lasting Effects

Ban noted that the Day is an important opportunity to call attention to the harmful and long-lasting effects of testing, as well as the continued danger posed by the existence of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons.

“Around the world, symposia, conferences, exhibitions and competitions are being held to raise public awareness and galvanize action to finally end nuclear tests,” he stated. “To achieve this goal, States that have not yet signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) must do so without delay.”

The International Day against Nuclear Tests is being marked around the world with events to call attention to the dangers of nuclear test explosions, the threats posed to humans and the environment, and the need to ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons and their testing.

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2012 Human Wrongs Watch

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