Today is International Day against Nuclear Testing and it has been set aside to create awareness about the dangers of nuclear testing.
It was declared as such by the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 and the date was chosen to mark the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site in Russia on August 29 in 1991, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The first nuclear weapons tests began in 1945 and, since then, nearly 2 000 tests have taken place, putting human life and the environment at risk.
Hindsight and history have shown the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing, especially when controlled conditions go wrong. Scientists have established links between radiation exposure and increased cancer and tumours suffered by humans and other animals.
The UN resolution to declare August 29 the International Day against Nuclear Tests calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
Since its establishment, many bilateral and multilateral governmental level developments, as well as broad movements in civil society, have helped to advance the cause of banning nuclear tests.
The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Unfortunately, this has yet to enter into force, with many countries having yet to sign the agreement.
It is the hope of the UN that one day all nuclear weapons will be eliminated. Until then, there is a need to observe International Day against Nuclear Tests as the world works towards promoting peace and security.