August 29, the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, was commemorated by events around the world, including in parliaments, at the United Nations and at the World Congress of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in Kazakhstan.
UN Secretary-General Statement
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement, calling for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the remaining eight countries required for it to enter-into-force, i.e., China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States of America.
Mr Ban noted that “Decades ago, awareness of the human and environmental consequences of nuclear detonations led to the global ban on nuclear tests. The effects of nuclear weapons upon civilian populations, agriculture, livestock and ground-water supplies are better known and well documented. They have contributed significantly to our collective efforts towards achieving the prohibition and elimination of all nuclear weapons for all time. Together, let us demand an end to all nuclear tests and get on with the unfinished business of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.”
In the United States, Emi Faleomavaega (Congress Representative for American Samoa and a member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament – PNND) entered a statement into the U.S. Congressional Record on the horrific health and environmental consequences of the nuclear tests in the Pacific, especially the US tests in the Marshall islands. The statement commends Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony de Brum for initiating a case in a US Federal Court against the US, and additional cases in the International Court of Justice against all nine nuclear-armed States challenging their non-compliance with nuclear disarmament obligations.
‘When I was 9 years old, I remember vividly the white flash of the Bravo detonation on Bikini atoll, 6 decades ago in 1954, and one thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima…Bravo went off with a very bright flash, almost a blinding flash; bear in mind we are almost 200 miles away from ground zero… I like to describe it as if you are under a glass bowl and someone poured blood over it. Everything turned red: sky, the ocean, the fish, and my grandfather’s net. People in Rongelap nowadays claim they saw the sun rising from the West. I saw the sun rising from the middle of the sky…’
Tony de Brum, Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, quoted by US Congressman Emi Faleomavaega, U.S. Congressional Record
The cases in the International Court of Justice follow-on from previous cases lodged by New Zealand and Australia against French nuclear tests in 1974, and a case (advisory opinion) on the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons requested by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994.
PNND Past-President Abacca Anjain Maddison from the Marshall Islands is calling on parliamentarians and civil society around the world to support the cases in the International Court of Justice by signing the Nuclear Zero Cases petition. “The planet Earth is ours. It doesn’t belong to only nine countries,’ says Maddison, who comes from Rongelap Atoll – an island that has had to be permanently evacuated due to radioactive fallout from the nuclear tests.
PNND Council Member Jeremy Corbyn lodged an Early Day Motion in the UK House of Commons lamenting the humanitarian consequences of the nuclear tests in the Marshall islands, supporting the Marshall Islands’ legal proceedings against nine nuclear weapon states, including the UK, at the International Court of Justice; and urging the Government to respond by committing to scrap Trident.
IPPNW World Congress
The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), one of the founding members of Abolition 2000, held its 21st World Congress in Astana, Kazakhstan to coincide with the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, which occurs on the anniversary of the day in 1991 that Kazakhstan closed the Soviet nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk region.
A group of seventeen medical students rode for 800 kilometres from the former nuclear test site to Astana to promote a nuclear-weapon-free world. They were welcomed to Astana by Kazakhstan Senator Aitimova, a PNND Council Member who in her previous position as Kazakhstan Ambassador to the UN was responsible for the adoption by consensus of the UN resolution establishing the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
The IPPNW Congress included an exhibition featuring the history of nuclear weapons testing and nuclear disarmament by Kazakhstan and the art work of ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov. Kuyukov was born without arms as a result of his parent’s exposure to Soviet-era nuclear weapons testing. Kuyukov has overcome that obstacle to become an internationally recognized anti-nuclear weapons activist and renowned artist who uses his mouth and feet to paint.
The IPPNW Congress released a statement which notes the horrors inflicted on the people of Kazakhstan by the 467 nuclear tests in Semipalatinsk, commends Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev for his leadership in pursuit of the goal of nuclear abolition, notes the increasing risks of nuclear weapons-use in conflicts between nuclear-armed States, calls on the US and Russia to refrain from making nuclear threats in the Ukraine crisis, and calls for diplomatic solutions to the conflicts in Ukraine and Israeli-Palestinian, in particular.
Other ATOM project events
The ATOM Project organised a global one minute silence on 29 August in honour of all those who have suffered from the effects of nuclear tests. The ATOM Project also organised a roundtable in Moscow focusing on the role of the anti-nuclear movement in the modern world, and an exhibition in Kuala Lumpar, Malaysia. The ATOM Project petition against nuclear tests and for a nuclear weapon free world, reached over 94,000 signatures by 29 August.