August 29 to Be Proclaimed International Day against Nuclear Tests
The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which oversees disarmament and security issues, on October 30 approved a resolution put forward by Kazakhstan proclaiming August 29 ‘International Day against Nuclear Tests.' The approval came in the form of consensus of all 192 member states.
Recognizing the negative impact of nuclear testing on human life and the environment, as well as the importance of ending nuclear tests as one of the key means of achieving a nuclear weapon-free world, the resolution sets out to commemorate a significant date in Kazakhstan's – and, indeed, - the world's history.
It was on August 29, 1949, that the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear weapon test at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in eastern Kazakhstan. This test was followed by 455 more nuclear tests over four decades, resulting in radiation-related illnesses and deaths of more than 1.5 million people in Kazakhstan and the radioactive contamination of land equaling the size of Germany or Italy.
On August 29, 1991, President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed a decree officially shutting down the Semipalatinsk test site which set the stage for Kazakhstan's peaceful foreign policy and the renunciation of the world's fourth largest nuclear arsenal. Last June, speaking at a public rally in Semipalatinsk to commemorate the 20 th anniversary of the last nuclear test at the site, President Nazarbayev called on the United Nations to mark August 29 as a special day devoted to nuclear disarmament.
By its resolution, the UN GA now invites the United Nations, civil society, academia, the mass media and individuals to commemorate this date. In the context of the international community's current positive trends in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, the resolution is devoted to promoting awareness of the consequences of all explosions and the need to stop all tests.
According to statements of several UN delegations, activities on the International Day against Nuclear Tests will help accelerate the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which is an essential tool for nonproliferation.
Twenty six states co-sponsored the resolution, including Armenia, Belarus, Belize, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Chile, Comoros, Congo, Dominican Republic, Gambia, Guyana, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Qatar, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
The adoption of the resolution by the UN GA is a recognition by the international community of the significant contribution of Kazakhstan, under the leadership of President Nazarbayev, in strengthening international security and nonproliferation.
Resolutions of main committees of the UN General Assembly are subject to approval by the plenary before the end of the main part of the current session, meaning November or December this year.