UN urges nuclear-test ban to prevent ‘catastrophic impact’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for nuclear test ban to prevent “catastrophic impact” on humanity and eliminate nuclear weapons across the world.

Guterres said at a high-level General Assembly meeting in New York on the International Day against Nuclear Tests that the catastrophic atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should never happen again.

The UN chief said: “Last month I visited Japan and met with survivors of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki.

“Through the testimony of the survivors – the Hibakusha – we are reminded of the need to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.”
Guterres also stressed the need to “remember the victims of the disastrous era of widespread nuclear testing.”

“The legacy of more than 2,000 nuclear tests has touched people and communities in many regions, from the residents of Semipalatinsk and the steppe of Kazakhstan, to South Pacific islanders, and the Maralinga Tjarutja people of South Australia,” he said.

According to him, the thousands of nuclear tests had negative impacts on some of the world’s most vulnerable communities in some of the most fragile areas of the planet.

The UN chief pointed out that nuclear testing inevitably had a “catastrophic impact” on the environment, human health, food security and economic development.

“That is why we should all welcome the robust norm against nuclear testing that has developed since the end of the Cold War, including through the voluntary moratoria implemented by most States that possess nuclear weapons.”

Since the turn of the century, only the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – North Korea – has broken this norm, leading to condemnation from the Security Council and repeated imposition of sanctions.

“What these tests have shown is that “no ad hoc measure can replace a global, legally binding ban on nuclear-testing. Every effort must be made to bring about the immediate entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).”

By constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons, CTBT puts a brake on the nuclear arms race and serves as a barrier against states that might seek to develop, manufacture, use and acquire nuclear weapons in violation of their non-proliferation commitments.

While more than 180 countries have signed the treaty, and mostly ratified it, it can only enter into force after it is ratified by eight countries with nuclear technology capacity.

These are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the U.S.

General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák said nuclear testing “creates openings for political miscalculations. And they bring us closer to the brink.

“We need a legally binding system; we need a clear verification mechanism; we need the CTBT to enter into force.”

He urged the eight states required to ratify “to do so urgently”.

Lajčák said he hoped to see “tangible” disarmament action on the Korean Peninsula, noting that “verification is crucial for progress.” (NAN)

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