Today (29 August) is the UN International Day against Nuclear Tests.
Since nuclear weapons testing began on 16 July 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,
Britain’s first atomic bomb test took place on 3 October 1952 in the Monte Bello Islands off the North West Coast of Australia. From 1952 until 1991, Britain conducted 45 atomic and nuclear weapons tests in Australia, in the Pacific and in the United States; the last British nuclear weapons test was conducted as recently as November 1991. The Indigenous peoples of Australia and the Pacific Islands greatly suffered as a result. Over 22,000 British military personnel took part in the tests and many of these subsequently died or suffered ill-health as a consequence of exposure to radiation. The test sites in South Australia remain heavily contaminated.
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 legal force. US President Donald Trump has recently threatened to recommence nuclear weapons testing, allegedly to force Russia and China to begin negotiations on a new nuclear weapons treaty, but this prospect has been roundly condemned by many international observers and anti-nuclear activists as not only immoral but actually technically unnecessary (as the test conditions can be recreated in laboratory conditions).
On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 29 August the International Day against Nuclear Tests by unanimously adopting resolution 64/35 calling for increased awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test 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 29 August 1991.
2010 marked the inaugural commemoration of the International Day against Nuclear Tests. In each subsequent year, the day has been observed by coordinating various activities throughout the 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.