Wednesday, August 29 is the United Nations International Day Against Nuclear Testing and Sri Lanka, with two of our neighbouring countries, being nuclear powers, needs to give much attention to the dangers or even catastrophe from nuclear tests or the use of nuclear weapons.
In a statement to mark the event, the UN says since nuclear weapons testing began on July 16, 1945, nearly 2,000 have taken place. In the early days of nuclear testing little consideration was given to its devastating effects on human life, let alone the dangers of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests. Hindsight and history have shown us the terrifying and tragic effects of nuclear weapons testing, especially when controlled conditions go awry, and in the light of the far more powerful and destructive nuclear weapons that exist today.
The international instrument to put an end to all forms of nuclear testing is the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which, unfortunately, has yet to enter into force. On December 2, 2009, the 64th session of the UN General Assembly declared August 29, the International Day Against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting the resolution. It 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.
The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors with a view to commemorating the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site on August 29, 1991. The Day is meant to galvanize the UN Member States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, youth networks and the media to inform, educate and advocate the necessity of banning nuclear weapon tests as a valuable step towards achieving a safer world.
2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. Each year, since then, the day has been observed by coordinating various activities throughout the world, such as symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, lectures in academic institutions, media broadcasts and other initiatives.
Since the International Day Against Nuclear Tests was first declared, there have been a number of significant developments, discussions and initiatives relevant to its goals and objectives as well as conferences convened to elaborate and advance these developments. On February 5 this year, the United States and Russia met the central limits on the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms.
But the major problem today relates to North Korea. During the past two years, the North Korean regime has reportedly conducted several nuclear tests and even claims it now has the ability to hit areas in the US. The enraged US President Donald Trump -notorious for his lies, inconsistency and dangerous unpredictability- slammed the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un as the “little rocket man.” Mr Trump threatened that if North Korea did not stop its nuclear tests the US might consider military retaliation. Then there was a complete turnaround. The two leaders had friendly telephone calls and an historic summit was held in Singapore recently.
The US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo visited North Korea several times after that and was due to go there again this week. But amid reports that North Korea was not taking effective steps towards denuclearization, President Trump told the Secretary of State to postpone or cancel the visit.
With Mr Trump in deep legal trouble after several of his close advisors turned against him and have agreed to give evidence to federal prosecutors probing his alleged misdeeds including collusion with Russia, there is concern as to what Mr Trump may do now and how North Korea will retaliate.
In the long term, Pope Francis has called on world religious leaders to come together in a mission, not just to stop or curb testing of nuclear weapons, but ban the possession of such deadly weapons, which could destroy the world within minutes. If the world’s religions come together along with peace activists, they may be able to make some progress for the world to become a safer place to live in.