With World Closer to Global Catastrophe than Ever Before, General Assembly President Urges Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Be Put into Force
Amid the annual commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests today, the President of the General Assembly warned that the world is closer than any other time in this century to global catastrophe and stressed the urgent need to enter into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Csaba Kőrösi (Hungary) noted that in 2010, the General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Yet, today, there is little reason to celebrate amid heightened distrust, geopolitical competition and a growing number of armed conflicts. The regular threats of resorting to a nuclear strike in the ongoing war against Ukraine have raised alarm; however, the response has been global military spending reaching a record $2.2 trillion in 2022. Urging the remaining Annex 2 countries to finally sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), he emphasized that “the so-called ‘limited nuclear war’ does not exist” and called on Member States “to put an end to the threat of our collective suicide”.
Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, underscored that the Treaty remains a testament to the international community’s united resolve to consign nuclear tests to history. However, while the unilateral moratoria against tests adopted by nuclear-weapon States are to be commended, they are no substitute for a legally binding prohibition against all nuclear tests. She recalled that Trinity — the first-ever nuclear detonation in 1945 — marked the beginning of an era of over 2,000 nuclear tests that have had lasting, devastating impacts on the environment, health and security in some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, home to some of its most vulnerable people. “The only way to prevent the reversal of the gains made in pursuit of an end to nuclear testing is to bring the CTBT into force and to do so without delay,” she stressed.
Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, described Hiroshima as “certainly the largest almost-instantaneous obliteration of humans, by humans”. The weapons built and tested since then have far more explosive power. Also spotlighting the more than 2,000 nuclear tests since 1945, he noted that when he was 14, there had been over 1,000 nuclear-weapon-test explosions. Thanks to the Treaty, a child who is 14 in 2023 “has lived through just five tests, all by one country”.
Vivian Okeke, Director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Liaison Office in New York, said that for almost 70 years, IAEA has helped prevent the spread of nuclear weapons while making nuclear science and technology available for peaceful purposes, especially to developing countries in areas such as energy, health and agriculture. The Agency is also the global platform for strengthening nuclear security, with States increasingly seeking its help in minimizing the risk of nuclear material falling into the hands of terrorists.
Elias Merad Taouli, youth activist for Reverse the Trend: Save our People, Save our Planet, stressed that over 315 nuclear tests were conducted in the Pacific, “equivalent to more than 10,000 Hiroshima bombs”, and 415 were conducted in Kazakhstan. To this day, the consequences continue to cast a long shadow, with mothers having miscarriages, children being born with birth defects and all experiencing adverse physical and mental health effects. Recognition, reconciliation and reparations by nuclear perpetrators are long overdue, he stressed.
In the ensuing debate, Member States warned that, with rising geopolitical tensions, nuclear weapons and their proliferation represent an “existential threat” to humanity. They echoed calls for the entry into force of the Treaty, while also urging nuclear-weapons States to uphold their responsibilities towards those countries and people affected by nuclear testing.
The representative of Kiribati recounted his country’s tragic legacy of 33 nuclear tests carried out by the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. Not provided with proper individualized protective gears, Kiribati citizens were advised to take shelter in open spaces under tarpaulin cover. Many later complained about untreatable illnesses, including cancer and congenital disabilities — most of which resulted in death. With the suffering continuing to this day, he called on the nuclear-weapon States concerned to provide targeted support, radiological clean-up of the island, victim assistance and environmental remediation.
Kazakhstan’s delegate expressed anxiety “about the rise of a disturbing belligerent rhetoric,” and signs of the potential revival of bloc mentality. This struggle for power is resulting in the rapid modernization and increased production of even more potent and advanced nuclear weapons. Pointing out that this causes the command-and-control systems of nuclear weapons States to become more vulnerable to cyberattacks, he stressed the need to expand the number of nuclear weapons-free zones and ensure greater cooperation among them.
Echoing that last point, the representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), noted that its member States are party to the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, “which established our region as the first nuclear-weapons-free zone in a densely populated area”. Further, those States have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Similarly, Tunisia’s delegate, speaking for the African Group, reiterated its commitment to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (“Treaty of Pelindaba”), which re-affirms the continent’s status as a nuclear-weapons-free zone and as a shield for the African territory, including by preventing the stationing of nuclear explosive devices there and prohibiting weapons testing.
Sudan’s representative, speaking for the Arab Group, underscored that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is a realistic and feasible goal, rejecting the argument that the possession of them is necessary for international security. Calling on the nuclear States to implement the agreed goals and fully eliminate their nuclear arsenals, he stressed: “This is the least these countries can do to compensate the international community for the intimidation and massive and long-term damage caused by thousands of nuclear tests they have carried out”.
CSABA KŐRÖSI (Hungary), President of the General Assembly, noted that in 2010, the General Assembly declared that “every effort should be made to end nuclear tests” when it made 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests. Yet, today, there is little reason to celebrate amid heightened distrust, geopolitical competition and a growing number of armed conflicts. The regular threats of resorting to a nuclear strike in the ongoing war against Ukraine have raised alarm. Yet, the response has been global military spending reaching a record $2.2 trillion in 2022. “Does it make any sense to threaten a neighbouring country with a nuclear strike?” he asked, stressing that the world is closer than any other time in this century to global catastrophe.
Spotlighting the “newest human right”, that to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, he emphasized that investment in and the ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons “is simply incompatible with our goals, aspirations, and promises”. Commending Kazakhstan for its tireless efforts, he said the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is a key part of the international disarmament structure. However, its failure to enter into force — 27 years after its adoption — is a serious loophole in the global framework. Urging the remaining Annex 2 countries to finally sign and ratify the Treaty, he underscored the duty to ensure that the ban on nuclear testing is legally binding for all States, given that “the so-called ‘limited nuclear war’ does not exist”.
“For the safety of everyone around the globe, we must continue working towards a world free from the nuclear threat,” he stressed, pointing to Teruko Yahata, who was eight years old when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Today, at 85, she makes presentations to global audiences about the dreadful power of a nuclear blast, asking her audience: “Who is important to you? What do you want to protect?” In the name of all those who suffered from nuclear testing or nuclear detonations, and future generations, he called on Member States to prevent global nuclear destruction. “It is time to put an end to the threat of our collective suicide,” he stated.
IZUMI NAKAMITSU, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a monumental testament to the international community’s united resolve to consign nuclear tests to history and protect both humanity and the environment from their destructive consequences. The International Monitoring System has already proven its worth, and with 186 signatories and 178 ratifying States, the Treaty is a load-bearing pillar of the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Welcoming the recent ratifications by Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, the Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka, she noted that although the Treaty has yet to enter into force, it has nonetheless provided the foundation for the global taboo against nuclear testing. However, while the unilateral moratoria against tests adopted by the nuclear-weapon States are to be commended, they are no substitute for a legally binding prohibition against all nuclear tests.
Despite the global norm’s current robustness against testing, rising nuclear risk threatens to engulf hard-won gains in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation achieved over the last three decades, she continued. It is important to remember that 29 August pays tribute to the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan, and to recall Trinity — the first-ever nuclear detonation that took place in 1945 and marked the beginning of an era of over 2,000 nuclear tests. Those tests, which took place in some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and home to some of its most vulnerable people, have had lasting and devastating impacts on the environment, health, and security. The testimonies of survivors and victims and the documented evidence all testify to the enormous suffering and irreversible consequences of such tests.
“The only way to prevent the reversal of the gains made in pursuit of an end to nuclear testing is to bring the CTBT into force and to do so without delay,” she stressed, calling on all States that have yet to do so to sign and ratify the Treaty. The remaining Annex 2 States — whose ratifications are required for entry into force — should not wait for others to act but take unilateral action in the name of those who have suffered and are suffering from the catastrophic consequences of nuclear testing. Stressing that the time for action is now, she urged: “We must unite with renewed zeal to achieve our shared goal — a world devoid of the spectre of nuclear tests and a world free of nuclear weapons. There can be no excuses for further delay.”
ROBERT FLOYD, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, recalled his recent visit to Hiroshima for the annual ceremony to remember what happened on 6 August 1945 — “certainly the largest almost-instantaneous obliteration of humans, by humans”. Noting that those present cannot imagine what the explosion was like for people in and around that city — or those in Nagasaki, only a few days later — he pointed out that the weapons built and tested in the following years “had far, far more explosive power”. He recalled that the case for stopping such tests became unanswerable, recounting the history leading to the agreement of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996. Before that year, there were more than 2,000 nuclear tests — almost all far bigger than the bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, there were less than 12 test events between 24 September 1996 and today.
The Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System is a key global security asset, he stressed. Every State has access to all its data and is trained how to detect a nuclear explosion. Spotlighting that verification and transparency work, he pointed out that: “When lack of trust is an issue, it’s vital that we have an independent source of facts.” The Treaty has 186 signatories and 178 ratifications, and momentum towards universality is increasing. However, noting that the Treaty still has not come into force, he called on possessor States to clearly, publicly recommit to moratoria against testing and on those States yet to sign or ratify the Treaty to do so. Adding that, when he was 14, there had been over 1,000 nuclear-weapon-test explosions, he observed that — thanks to the Treaty — a child who is 14 in 2023 “has lived through just five tests, all by one country”. The world is safer and cleaner without such tests, but progress risks unravelling absent a legally binding ban on nuclear testing, he stated.
VIVIAN OKEKE, Director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Liaison Office in New York, said that for almost 70 years, the IAEA has helped prevent the spread of nuclear weapons while making nuclear science and technology available for peaceful purposes, especially to developing countries in areas such as energy, human health, and food and agriculture. “While nuclear safety and security are national responsibilities, IAEA serves as the international forum in which countries work together to develop safety standards and security guidance and to share best practices,” she noted. It helps States fulfil their nuclear safety responsibilities by developing safety standards that may be used as the basis for national regulations and by providing — upon request — a variety of services, including expert review missions.
The IAEA is also the global platform for strengthening nuclear security, she continued, adding: “Countries increasingly seek our help in minimizing the risk of nuclear and other radioactive material falling into the hands of terrorists.” To better assist States in preparing for security challenges posed by non-State actors, IAEA is building a new nuclear security training center. The Agency, by conducting verification missions of nuclear facilities, also aims to ensure countries are not working to acquire nuclear weapons. Safeguards provide credible assurances that States are fulfilling their international obligations not to develop nuclear weapons. “They also make it possible to detect any misuse of nuclear material or technology in a timely manner,” she said.
Turning to the situation in Ukraine, she said IAEA has deployed a host of missions to that country to help stabilize the situation and assess closely the nuclear safety and security situation. At the request of Ukraine officials, the continued presence of IAEA agency staff at all nuclear sites in the country was established in January. In addition, AEA has arranged several deliveries of nuclear safety and security related equipment and safeguards activities have continued. More generally, she emphasized, the Agency’s work will continue in the years to come, working to remind the world of the long-term hazardous effects of nuclear tests.
ELIAS MERAD TAOULI, youth activist for Reverse the Trend: Save our People, Save our Planet, highlighted the critical role of youth voices in multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, noting that participation of young people in policy discussions can contribute to guiding humanity away from the precipice of nuclear Armageddon. “I firmly believe that the international community must acknowledge the legacy of nuclear testing worldwide and enable justice for victims of these inhumane weapons,” he underscored. Over 315 tests were conducted in the Pacific, “equivalent to more than 10,000 Hiroshima bombs”. In Kazakhstan, more than 415 nuclear tests were conducted.
To this day, the consequences of the nuclear tests continue to cast a long shadow on each of these communities, with mothers having miscarriages, children being born with birth defects, and all experiencing adverse physical mental health effects, he pointed out. Citing the legacy of ongoing nuclear violence as “unfinished business”, he said that recognition, reconciliation and reparations by nuclear perpetrators are long overdue. In this regard, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) — with its humanitarian focus — serves as a beacon of hope, liberating humanity from haunting spectre of nuclear weapons, he emphasized.
TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), speaking for the African Group, said that “the fact that we are convening here today is an indication of our willingness and determination to see an end to nuclear tests as a necessary measure towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.” Voicing support for the goals of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, he stressed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only guarantee against their use or threat of use and called for the Treaty to be brought into force. He also urged the international community, especially nuclear-weapons States and those under the so-called “nuclear umbrella”, to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. He expressed regret at the failure of two consecutive sessions of the Review Conference to reach consensus on a final outcome document, despite efforts made by many delegations.
He also reiterated the Group’s commitment to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (“Treaty of Pelindaba”), which re-affirms the status of Africa as a nuclear-weapons-free zone and as a shield for the African territory — including by preventing the stationing of nuclear explosive devices on the continent and prohibiting the testing of those weapons. He further called for constructive engagement in good faith in order to negotiate a legally binding treaty that satisfies the implementation of the resolution of the 1995 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on the Middle East. All States, particularly nuclear-weapons States, must take into consideration the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of these weapons on human health, the environment and vital economic resources among others, and to take necessary measures aimed at dismantling and renouncing these weapons, he stressed.
YOKA BRANDT (Netherlands), speaking for the Western European and Other States, pointed out that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is approaching universality and welcomed the four most recent ratifications by Sri Lanka, Solomon Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea. She also commended the persistent efforts of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to achieve further ratifications. Underscoring the vital importance and urgency of achieving the Treaty’s entry into force, she called on States to support the annual General Assembly resolution on the Treaty at the First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) this year, as well as the so-called ‘Article XIV Conference’ on 22 September. She also welcomed the prohibition on nuclear testing contained in all nuclear-weapon-free zones.
Condemning the Russian Federation’s unprovoked attack against Ukraine, she stressed that that country’s war of aggression and its threats of nuclear use and testing seriously undermine the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture. She urged all States not to carry out nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, to maintain and reaffirm their moratoriums in this regard and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the Treaty. She also condemned the six nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2006 in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions. Voicing concern about reported preparations for a seventh such test, she urged full compliance with the obligations under Council resolutions, including that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programme in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner and not conduct any further nuclear tests.
BONNIE DENISE JENKINS, Under Secretary of State of the United States, said that her country is committed to supporting the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, along with efforts to achieve its entry into force. Calling on all States to ratify the Treaty “without waiting for others to do so”, she pointed out that the United States has not conducted a nuclear explosive test for more than 30 years — “and we have no plans to do so”. Further, it was the first to sign the Treaty and, since then, has maintained a zero-yield moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. Against that backdrop, she called on all States possessing nuclear weapons to declare or maintain such a moratorium. However, nuclear rhetoric from the Russian Federation over the past 18 months is concerning, particularly the February statement by its President regarding its willingness to resume nuclear explosive testing. Such a statement runs counter to Moscow’s commitment to the Treaty, she underscored, also underlining the need to provide adequate resources for the long-term sustainment of the International Monitoring System.
JAMES MARTIN LARSEN (Australia), speaking for the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, said the Treaty is among the world’s most effective normative instruments to contain and reduce nuclear threats. Its entry into force as a universal and verifiable ban on any nuclear explosions will benefit all States and must be achieved without delay. The Treaty has been instrumental in creating and promoting the global norm against nuclear testing, a norm that has only been defied by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he pointed out, reiterating his condemnation of that country’s six nuclear tests conducted since 2006. He welcomed ongoing steps to complete the Treaty’s verification regime, including the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre and onsite inspection capabilities. He also stressed that individual States’ financial commitments remain crucial to ensuring the continued operation and long-term sustainability of all elements of the verification regime, including the ongoing programme of capacity-building and training for national authorities. There is no doubt that the Treaty contributes significantly to the international security non-proliferation and disarmament landscape, he emphasized. “But we cannot take it for granted,” he warned.
MUAWIA ELTOUM ELAMIN ELBUKHAR (Sudan), speaking for the Arab Group, highlighted the persistent desire of the international community to end nuclear testing and the threat it represents to international peace and security. Nuclear weapons are inconsistent with humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law, he said, expressing deep concern over the serious threat humanity is facing due to the continued presence of nuclear weapons. It is necessary to confront the risk resulting from the continued possession of nuclear weapons by the nuclear States. Such risks rising from nuclear tests represent an existential threat that the international community must deal with persistently to reach a world free of nuclear weapons.
He underscored that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is not only a realistic and feasible goal, but also a necessary condition to maintain international security and stability and to advance sustainable development worldwide. Rejecting the argument that the possession of nuclear weapons is necessary for international security, he called on the nuclear States to assume their responsibilities, implement the agreed goals and fully eliminate their nuclear arsenals. “This is the least these countries can do to compensate the international community for the intimidation and massive and long-term damage caused by thousands of nuclear tests they have carried out,” he said. Expressing concern over Israel’s nuclear capabilities which threaten the security of the neighbouring States, he advocated for creating a zone free of nuclear weapons and all weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
LASANA ANDREWS (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), speaking for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), implored States to refrain from nuclear testing, other nuclear explosions or any other relevant non-explosive tests, including subcritical experiments and those carried out using simulations. She pointed out that Latin America and the Caribbean is a region in which all States have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, reinforcing its commitment to nuclear disarmament and the international non-proliferation regime. Reiterating the urgency of the Treaty’s entry into force, she urged those States which have not yet signed and ratified it to do so without delay. She further reaffirmed that such instruments should not undermine the rights of States to pursue nuclear science and technology for safe, secure, and peaceful uses.
Nuclear weapons must not be used by any State under any circumstances, she stressed, underscoring that their use or threat of use constitutes a crime against humanity and an abominable violation of international law — potentially decimating humanity and setting back decades of achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. CELAC’s member States are party to the 1967 Tlatelolco Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, “which established our region as the first nuclear-weapons-free zone in a densely populated area”. She further proclaimed the region as a “Zone of Peace”, based on respect for the principles and rules of international law, through the Declaration made in Havana in 2014. Full implementation of the test ban should remain a top priority on the international community’s agenda, “without which we will not achieve our common vision of a safer world that is nuclear weapons-free”, she said.
SILVIO GONZATO, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has always been and remains a top priority for the bloc. Its member States have ratified the Treaty and consistently call upon all the remaining eight Annex 2 States, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States, who still need to ratify the Treaty, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan, who still need to sign and ratify it, to do so without any preconditions or further delay in order to bring it into force. Pending the entry into force of the Treaty, he called on all States to abide by the moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, and to refrain from any action contrary to the object and purpose of the Treaty.
The Russian Federation must immediately cease its war of aggression and unconditionally withdraw all its forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, he stressed, voicing further concern about its announced readiness to conduct a nuclear test. He also urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to cease its unlawful and destabilizing actions that undermine regional and international peace and security and instead engage in dialogue with relevant parties. All Member States, especially Council members, must ensure the full implementation of United Nations sanctions and urge Pyongyang to resume meaningful dialogue with all parties. Since 2006, the Union has provided the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization with voluntary contributions of more than €29.5 million to fund a variety of technical projects to strengthen the verification regime and build capacity in developing countries and will continue to do so, he said.
NOOR QAMAR SULAIMAN (Brunei Darussalam), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), called on all countries — particularly nuclear-weapon States — to demonstrate good faith, promote mutual understanding, enhance cooperation and ensure responsible, collective actions to realize a world without such weapons. Pending their total elimination, she reaffirmed ASEAN’s position against the testing of such weapons, called for universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and urged the remaining Annex 2 States to sign and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible to facilitate its entry into force. Noting that all ASEAN member States have ratified the Treaty, she also encouraged the international community to assist regions that underwent nuclear-test explosions.
She went on to underline the importance of full, effective implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, calling on nuclear-weapon States to fulfil their obligation to advance nuclear disarmament in accordance with that instrument. Regional nuclear-weapon-free zones are also critical, and she reiterated ASEAN’s commitment to preserving the South-East Asia region as such a zone. The recent surge in intercontinental-ballistic-missile tests and launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is worrisome, however, and she urged Pyongyang to de-escalate tension. Further, she called for peaceful dialogue among concerned parties, emphasized the importance of compliance with relevant Security Council resolutions and international law, and underlined ASEANS’s readiness to play a constructive role.
AKAN RAKHMETULLIN (Kazakhstan) said that nuclear weapons are an existential threat to the planet. With the increasing geopolitical tensions and the threat of use of nuclear weapons, there is a trend towards nuclear sharing, which can lead to further proliferation and weapons accumulation. He also stressed: “We are extremely anxious about the rise of a disturbing belligerent rhetoric, signs of potential revival of bloc mentality, accompanied with emerging of new alliances or affinity groups”. This struggle for power is resulting in the rapid modernization and increased production of even more potent and advanced nuclear weapons. This causes the command-and-control systems of nuclear weapons States to become more vulnerable to cyberattacks. He underlined the need to expand the number of nuclear-weapon-free zones and ensure greater cooperation among them. “We have to increase general public knowledge about the threat of nuclear weapons testing, which then could be mobilized into demanding the Government take action,” he emphasized.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) underscored that nuclear testing not only represents a non-proliferation malpractice, but also constitutes a serious challenge to the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Spotlighting estimates by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, she said that the nine nuclear weapons States spent $82.9 billion in 2022 on maintaining and modernizing their nuclear weapons. “In a world of finite resources, such expenditures are immoral and unacceptable,” she said, calling on States to comply with the mandate provided in Article 26 of the Charter of the United Nations to establish a security system with the least possible detour of human and economic resources towards armaments. Nuclear testing is a dangerous relict of an era that should be left behind, she stressed, adding: “We can and should decide together to leave such tests to the past and history books.”
HUGO EMMANUEL GUERRA (Argentina) condemned any type of nuclear test anywhere in the world, other nuclear explosions, or any other relevant non-explosive test, including subcritical experiments. He welcomed the ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, and Sri Lanka since the last session dedicated to the subject in the General Assembly. However, he reiterated the importance of its prompt entry into force, urging those States in Annex 2 that have not signed or ratified it to do so without further delay. Argentina is deeply committed to strengthening the International Monitoring System, as well as the International Data Centre of the Treaty, hosting eight of its monitoring stations and a radionuclide laboratory, he reported. Thanks to that System, the chances that any country can carry out secret tests are very low.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said that challenges to international security must be seen as an urgent call to achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. He called once again on the eight States whose signature or ratification is required for entry into force to sign the Treaty now, without conditions. During the First Committee’s session in October, his delegation will coordinate the presentation of the annual resolution on the Treaty together with Australia and New Zealand, he said, voicing hope that this action and other efforts, including the Conference under Article XIV of the Treaty, will contribute to the Treaty’s speedy entry into force. He also called on all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, noting that the Second Meeting of States Parties will take place in New York in November and will be chaired by his country.
REN HONGYAN (China), noting that the current international security environment is “undergoing the most profound changes since the cold war”, called on the international community to practice true multilateralism and promote the concept of common security. China, for its part, has conducted the fewest nuclear tests among nuclear-weapon States, has strictly abided by its commitment to a moratorium on nuclear testing and has supported the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s monitoring and verification regime. Further, Beijing upholds a no-first-use policy and always keeps its nuclear force at the “minimum level required for national security”. It also neither provides a nuclear umbrella nor deploys its nuclear weapons abroad and is the only nuclear-weapon State that has made these commitments. Against that backdrop, he called on all nuclear-weapon States to issue a joint statement regarding a mutual no-first-use policy and to conclude a treaty in this regard.
ANTONIO M. LAGDAMEO (Philippines), aligning himself with ASEAN, said that the complete eradication of nuclear weapons is the only safeguard against their use and abuse. “Regrettably, some nations, despite legal obligations, continue their nuclear deterrence policies, and they also conduct international intercontinental ballistic missile testing, whose outcomes could lead to future aggression against another State,” he reported. He called for limited resources to be channelled away from nuclear weapons expansion and invest them in social protection schemes, the economy, climate resilience and the environment instead. He expressed grave concern over the impacts of nuclear testing, especially on the environment and on people, including multi-generational suffering. Furthermore, he urged universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Regarding the Korean Peninsula, he expressed concern over missile tests and emphasized the need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with IAEA safeguards.
CARLA MARIA RODRIGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala), highlighting the approximately 2,000 nuclear tests carried out since 1945 with devastating consequences, said the establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Latin American and Caribbean region has not only contributed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, but also to regional and global peace and security. Stressing that the only guarantee against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is their total elimination, she said that the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons constitutes a crime against humanity and a violation of international law. Banning nuclear weapons is an important first step towards their elimination, she said, urging Member States to refrain from carrying out nuclear tests, other nuclear explosions or any other relevant non-explosive tests. Such actions are contrary to the object and purpose of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation system, she asserted.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), aligning with the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, stated that increasing divisions within the international community, the Russian Federation’s threat to use nuclear weapons and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continued nuclear programme underscore the pressing need for the international community to intensify its efforts in revitalizing momentum for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. He urged all States to sign and ratify the Treaty, while calling for all relevant States to declare or maintain existing moratoriums on nuclear-weapon-test explosions pending its entry into force. Recalling his delegation’s condemnation of the six nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea since 2006, he strongly urged Pyongyang to fully comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions and to take concrete actions towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear weapons-related programmes.
SERHII DVORNYK (Ukraine), associating himself with the European Union, pointed to the Russian Federation’s seizure of Ukrainian nuclear facilities and repeated shelling and militarization of the illegally occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, its announced development of non-strategic nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus and the suspension of its participation in the New START Treaty. All responsible Member States must not fall for the Russian Federation’s nuclear blackmail and must consolidate their actions to ensure reliable deterrence and prevent that country’s further erosion of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation architecture. He also condemned the ballistic and intercontinental ballistic missile launches conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and called on Pyongyang to refrain from conducting such tests, fully implement and respect all relevant Security Council resolutions and immediately return to compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), aligning himself with the European Union and the Group of Western European and Other States, said that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has achieved two important goals. First, it has paved the way for a moratorium on nuclear tests and, second, it has created a highly efficient global verification regime. Welcoming the recent ratifications of the Treaty, he called on all States that have yet to do so to sign and ratify it without further delay — particularly the eight remaining Annex 2 States. Current threats to global peace and security make the Treaty’s universalization “more urgent than ever”, and he both condemned the Russian Federation for its unprovoked aggression against Ukraine and called on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to comply with relevant Security Council resolutions. He also urged the international community to continue supporting the Treaty’s verification regime to improve its monitoring capacity and its ability to provide accurate data analysis.
TEBURORO TITO (Kiribati) said that his country’s citizens experienced the tragic legacy of 33 nuclear tests carried out by the United Kingdom and the United States in the 1950s and 1960s. “They were not provided with proper individualized protective gears but advised to take shelter in open spaces with tarpaulin cover spread over them and warned to cover their eyes with their hands,” he reported. Many of these people complained sometime later about “all sorts of untreatable illnesses and health complications,” most of which resulted in death. There were numerous cases of cancer, congenital disabilities, and abnormalities with new born babies. To this day, people continue to suffer. He called on the nuclear-weapon States concerned to provide targeted support for these affected people and for the radiological clean-up of the island. In addition, he stressed the need for victim assistance and environmental remediation. “We also firmly advocated the need for the international community to visit former test sites and engage with affected communities in order to fully grasp the humanitarian and environmental impact of these weapons,” he stated, adding that his delegation is committed to uplifting the voices, especially young people from affected communities, and encouraging Pacific youth to express themselves about nuclear weapons.
STEFAN PRETTERHOFER (Austria), aligning himself with the European Union and the Western European and Other States, said 78 years have passed since the first nuclear-weapons test in the desert of New Mexico, a fact which recently has been brought back to the public’s attention due to the success of the movie Oppenheimer. New studies show that the consequences of radioactive radiation of these first tests were graver, more widespread and more dangerous for civilians’ health than initially admitted. By prohibiting nuclear weapon testing and all other nuclear explosions worldwide, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has become an essential component of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation framework. He highlighted its International Monitoring System and the International Data Centre, which allow to detect any new testing by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — the only country to test nuclear weapons in the twenty-first century. “Today, the risk of nuclear detonations is higher than in decades, higher even than during the cold war,” he warned, adding that “the Doomsday Clock stands at an unprecedented 90 seconds to midnight”.
MOHAMMED LAWAL MAHMUD (Nigeria), voicing concern about the non-entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty for over two decades, called on those who are yet to sign or ratify the Treaty to do so with no conditions. Further voicing concern about the resistance of nuclear-weapon States to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, he stressed that universalization of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is dependent on strict compliance with its three pillars: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Recalling the Pelindaba Treaty, which declared Africa as a nuclear-weapons-free zone, he called on all Member States to emulate Africa in making their respective regions nuclear-weapons-free zones. He urged the Executive Secretary, the Preparatory Commission and the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to renew their efforts aimed at obtaining the signatures and ratifications necessary for the entry into force of the Treaty.
HEIDAR ALI BALOUJI (Iran) echoed the frustration of non-nuclear-weapon States who stand united against any delays in ending nuclear testing. Citing the stark, unsettling statistics revealing over 2,000 nuclear tests — nearly half attributed to the United States — he emphasized that the faithful implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty is the cornerstone for ridding the world of the threat. The international community must hold States accountable, including the Israeli regime, with the possession of various types of nuclear weapons posing a grave threat to regional peace and security and beyond. While voluntary moratoriums on nuclear tests are commendable, they cannot replace the necessity of legally binding commitments. The survival of humanity, he stressed, “hinges on a steadfast consensus: nuclear weapons must never again be tested, developed, or deployed; their complete eradication remains the ultimate but urgent goal”. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represents a step in the right direction.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) echoed “the cry of humanity to be freed from the spectre of nuclear warfare”, noting that the banning of nuclear tests is a giant step towards that end. Sri Lanka, for its part, has supported universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament, which can be achieved in a timebound manner through a step-by-step process underwritten by universal commitment and an agreed-upon multilateral framework. He also stressed the need for meaningful dialogue among nuclear-weapon States to build trust and confidence, and to “reduce the salience of nuclear weapons in their security doctrines”. While nuclear weapons are seen by some as the ultimate guarantee of State security and by others as weapons of evil, he emphasized that “no one publicly denies” that there is a need to achieve the ultimate objective of the total elimination of such weapons.
CARLOS EFRAÍN SEGURA ARAGÓN (El Salvador) condemned nuclear tests and other types of nuclear explosions, which threaten the world’s collective security. “They contaminate the environment and our natural resources and have adverse effects on the health and safety of all human beings,” he emphasized. The complete elimination of nuclear tests and other nuclear explosions will not be achieved until all States have understood the “importance of protecting the lives of all human beings and preserving and protecting our natural resources”. To that end, he welcomed educational initiatives — particularly those targeted at young people — that aim to ultimately see the cessation of nuclear tests and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. In addition, he underscored the vital contribution non-nuclear-weapon States make to a having a world free of nuclear weapons.
ISIS MARIE DORIANE JARAUD-DARNAULT (France), associating herself with the European Union and the Western European and Other States, reiterated her country’s commitment to the negotiation of a complete ban on nuclear tests, including low-energy testing. France’s commitment was not limited to purely legal aspects but immediately translated into concrete actions, with the complete, irreversible and transparent dismantling of its Pacific test site. The comprehensive ban on nuclear tests is only meaningful if it is backed by a robust and transparent verification system, she stressed, adding that her Government invested in the construction of the 16 stations, within the framework of the international monitoring system established by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Eventually, 321 stations will provide indiscriminate monitoring across the entire globe. Thanks to this monitoring and processing of the data collected by the International Data Centre team in Vienna, the international community can ensure France’s compliance with its commitment not to conduct any more nuclear tests. However, she sounded alarm that certain States — such as the Russian Federation — consider resuming nuclear testing.
DMITRY V. GLUKHOV (Russian Federation), noting his country’s contributions to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s verification regime, said it has also engaged in rehabilitating the former Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, where, according to Russian specialists, more than 90 per cent of the site’s territories can be used for economic activities. However, he voiced concern that the United States — the only State that has used nuclear weapons and holds the lead in the number of nuclear tests conducted — has kept open the question of a return to testing for years and for this reason has not ratified the Treaty. “Against this background, we do not recognize Washington's right to speak with any accusations against us or demand any clarification from us,” he declared. The statement made by the President of the Russian Federation on the hypothetical resumption of nuclear testing by his country during his speech before the federal Parliament should be excluded from the country’s answers to the actions taken by the United States, he stressed, adding that “this is a warning to the United States”. Regarding the baseless accusations by many delegations regarding Ukraine, he said his country has provided any clarifications on those issues and will continue to do so in the appropriate fora.
TOUFIQ ISLAM SHATIL (Bangladesh) expressed regret that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has yet to come into force due to non-ratification by some countries. Further, long-standing non-progress in multilateral disarmament talks have created a feeling of indifference and withdrawal — not only among Member States, but also people worldwide. This sometimes makes the international community oblivious to the real, existential danger posed by the uninhibited stockpiling, testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons. For Bangladesh — a State located in the proximity of three nuclear Powers — becoming a collateral victim of intentional or unintentional nuclear outbreak “is a genuine security threat”. He therefore called on States that have not yet done so to join and ratify the Treaty as soon as possible, also underlining the need to revitalize multilateral disarmament mechanisms. Countries’ security will not be achieved unless collective global security is ensured, he added.
MARÍA GLORIA BEATRIZ SANABRIA DE MONTIEL (Paraguay), underlining that Member States are meeting at an international juncture marked by great complexity, reiterated the importance of dialogue and restraint. It is vital for countries to live up to their political commitments for peace. Furthermore, it is crucial for leaders and citizens alike to understand that geographical distance from areas of conflict does not grant safety or shield anyone from the effects of nuclear weapons. The consequences — both immediate and long term — affect all nations and peoples. “History has taught us about the devastating consequences of nuclear tests,” she pointed out, adding that investments in nuclear weapons is simply “a waste of time, resources and effort”. Those resources and funds could be allocated towards improving the lives of citizens and channelled towards fostering social progress.
GABRIELE CACCIA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, recalled that 78 years ago, the first nuclear-explosive test that occurred at the Trinity site, in New Mexico, initiated an arms race that featured the testing of nuclear devices throughout the twentieth century. These tests have caused grave harms, including displacement, multigenerational health problems, poisoned food and water and the disruption of people’s spiritual connections with the earth. These effects have disproportionately affected Indigenous Peoples, women and children. States that rely on nuclear deterrence have moral and legal obligations to restore the lives, communities and ecosystems harmed by such testing, he stressed, warning that “the prospects for a resumption of nuclear-explosive testing remain real”. Echoing the words of Pope Francis that nuclear weapons “cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity”, he said achieving a universal ban on nuclear-explosive testing and restoring the lives and environments harmed by such testing offer a path towards building a “climate of trust and sincere dialogue”.
Right of Reply
The representative of Egypt, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, responded to the European Union, stating that his country signed and fully supports the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, but has not ratified it due to the issues surrounding the Non-Proliferation Treaty in the Middle East. Not all countries in the region have joined that Treaty and there are nuclear facilities working outside the IAEA Safeguards Agreement in the region. Moreover, all the Review Conferences of the Non-Proliferation Treaty have reaffirmed the need to ensure the Treaty’s universality, which has yet to be reached. He called on all countries to commit to principles ensuring the Treaty’s universality, according to Step 10 of the Action Plan of 2010 Review Conference.
The representative of Israel said Iran is accountable to the mistrust in the Middle East arms control architecture. That country violated its commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Security Council resolutions. It justifies a special safeguards regime beyond the additional protocol to be designed for States which are caught cheating repeatedly. Iran’s accusations against his country are nothing more than ridiculous, he added, reminding that delegation’s representative that his country’s official name is the State of Israel.
The representative of Iran said that the Israeli regime has adopted a pattern of behaviour that “attempts to obfuscate its actions by employing disinformation and contrived crises”. However, this cannot conceal its culpable conduct, nor its penchant for policies that promote expansionism and bellicosity. He called on the international community to hold the Israeli regime accountable for its widespread human-rights violations and to pursue measures that prevent “any further acquisition of nuclear armaments by this entity”.