NEW YORK, September 6, 2018 - The UN General Assembly marked the International Day against Nuclear Tests, by holding for the first time an official high-level plenary meeting. The special guest of the meeting was the Kazakh artist, activist and Honorary Ambassador of the ATOM Project, Karipbek Kuyukov.
He began his speech from the main rostrum of the United Nations, “I speak on behalf of all the survivors and the victims of nuclear weapons. Everything you will hear today will be another reminder of the bitter experience of Kazakhstan which has experienced all the horrors and suffering of nuclear tests.” He told his story noting that he had devoted 25 years of his life to the struggle for a nuclear-weapon-free world and creating pictures “holding the brush with teeth or toes”. Mr Kuyukov was born without arms after his parents were subjected to radiation from Soviet nuclear testing.
The Kazakh activist emphasized that the decision of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev to close the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. It demonstrated to the whole world the way of peace and goodness chosen by the country and which became a worthy example for other nations. He urged the signing and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to eight specific countries - Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, China, Pakistan and the USA, whose respective steps determine the entry into force of the CTBT. “The time has come when you have to change the world for the better,” – Mr Kuyukov said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Lassina Zerbo, as well as representatives of 27 countries and regional groups of states attended the meeting which was chaired by the UN General Assembly President Miroslav Lajcak.
“We are gathered today to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests. We do it not for the first time. But today we meet for the first time in the format of a formal high-level meeting. And we have to thank Kazakhstan for its efforts and this meeting” Mr Lajcak said, opening the UN General Assembly session.
UN Secretary General António Guterres urged in his speech to remember the victims of the catastrophic era of large-scale nuclear tests. “The legacy of more than 2,000 nuclear tests concerned people and communities in many regions of the world - from the residents of Semipalatinsk and the steppe part of Kazakhstan to those living in the islands of the southern part of the Pacific Ocean and Maralinga in the south of Australia”. He focused attention on the need to make every effort towards the immediate entry into force of the CTBT. It was noted that the document serves as a powerful obstacle to those States that may seek for development, production and use or acquisition of nuclear weapons in violation of their commitments to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Other participants in the meeting expressed gratitude to Kazakhstan for its leading role in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. They noted the fundamental importance of constantly keeping this issue in the focus and attention of the international community. A particular emphasis was placed on measures for the fastest establishment of the ban on nuclear testing to create a nuclear-weapon-free world.
The Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan to the UN Kairat Umarov outlined in his speech the tragic pages of Kazakhstan's nuclear history as a vivid example of the fact that nuclear weapons and their consequences are incompatible with the creation of a secure and more prosperous future for humankind. “The overwhelming majority of the world community showed trust and a goodwill gesture by signing and ratifying the Treaty on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban. The same noble action and the same confidence-building measures are required from the minority which holds the final deliverance of the world from the threats of nuclear tests,” the Ambassador said.
The International Day against Nuclear Tests has been marked by the UN since 2010 following the adoption of General Assembly resolution 64/35. Led by the initiative of Kazakhstan, this day was established in December 2009.
In December 2017 the resolution was adopted, establishing high-level formal meetings of the General Assembly on the occasion of this memorable day.
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