The International Day against Nuclear Tests marks the closing, in 1991, of the nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, the largest in the former Soviet Union. More than 450 tests took place there, with impacts still being felt decades later.
But this observance also has a broader message. It commemorates all victims of nuclear tests, anywhere they have been conducted. Affected communities have yet to fully recover from the environmental, health and economic damage.
Honoring those victims requires bringing nuclear testing to a permanent end. Yet, an effective and legally-binding prohibition remains one of the longest unfulfilled goals of nuclear disarmament. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a central pillar of international efforts, but despite being widely supported – with 184 signatories and 168 ratifying States – it has not yet entered into force, more than 20 years after its adoption.
The legacy of nuclear testing is nothing but destruction. The CTBT is vital to ensuring there are no more victims; it is also essential to advancing nuclear disarmament.
On the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, I reiterate my call for all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. In a world of rising tensions and divisions, our collective security depends on it.