By Beatrice Fihn*
6 January 2016 (ICAN–International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons) – It was with great concern we heard the news that North Korea announced it carried out a successful test of its first hydrogen bomb on 6 January.
While the nature and details surrounding the test are still unconfirmed, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation — which has monitoring stations positioned around the world to detect illegitimate testing activities — announced that it detected a seismic event similar to the North Korean test of 2013.
ICAN strongly condemns this test, regardless of whether or not it was successful, whether it was a hydrogen bomb or not.
Today we were reminded that some states still believe nuclear weapons are legitimate tools of defence.
This reckless and unacceptable act by North Korea runs counter to the growing tide of international support for a universal treaty outlawing nuclear weapons.
But North Korea isn’t the only state trying to boost its nuclear weapons programme. All nine nuclear armed states are also developing or deploying new nuclear weapons systems or have announced their intention to do so.
The test comes at a time where the world has seen escalating tensions between nuclear-armed states, fueled by hostile rhetoric and expensive modernization programmes.
If we don’t take action now, we might risk getting thrown into a new nuclear arms race.
It is therefore urgent that states that are concerned about humanitarian law and humanitarian values act upon these beliefs and prohibit the most destructive and inhumane weapon of them all.
Next month, a new UN working group in Geneva, Switzerland, will launch talks on new legal measures against nuclear weapons. 121 states have endorsed the “Humanitarian Pledge”, which recognize that no explicit prohibition of nuclear weapons exists and commits to fill such legal gap.
All responsible states must use these talks in Geneva to develop a new legally binding instrument that prohibits nuclear weapons.
ICAN will work tirelessly to achieve this, and we’ll keep you updated on the work along the way.
While today’s news were worrying and concerning, the growing support for a treaty banning nuclear weapons shows that change is possible.
Let’s get working on that treaty!
P.S. — If you have questions about the North Korean nuclear test, you might find our “frequently asked questions” post useful. Check it out!
*Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)