International Day Against Nuclear Tests: Translating Words Into Action

August 29, 2011 is the second official International Day Against Nuclear Tests. It coincides with the 20th anniversary of the historic events that led to the closure of the former Soviet nuclear test site of Semipalatinsk, where more than 456 explosions contaminated the land and its inhabitants.

The courageous efforts of the Kazakh people and their allies forced Moscow’s communist regime to halt nuclear weapons testing and catalyzed actions elsewhere around the globe that eventually led to a  U.S. nuclear testing halt and the negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The damage caused by nuclear testing and the job of bringing a permanent and verifiable ban on all nuclear testing is, however incomplete.

As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on August 25: “We urgently need new progress in achieving a world free of both nuclear tests and nuclear weapons,” Ban said. “Current voluntary moratoriums on nuclear weapon tests are valuable, yet they are no substitute for a global ban,” he stated.

The August 29 commemoration should spur nongovernmental organizations and policymakers to redouble stalled efforts to secure entry into force of the CTBT and improve programs to better understand and responsibly address the health and environmental damage caused by past nuclear testing.

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