International Day Against Nuclear Weapons: A long road initiated by Kazakhstan5 min read
On 29 August every year, the world celebrates the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, an event that came through a road of initiatives by Kazakhstan and the First President Nursultan Nazarbayev who announced 29 august as the International Day Against Nuclear Weapons in 2009 during ceremonial events of the 20th anniversary of the cessation of tests at Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
Kazakhstan renounced the world’s fourth most destructive arsenal of nuclear weapons inherited from the Soviet Union after independence in 1991 and closed Semipalatinsk test site, leading to submitting a draft to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) about “International Day Against Nuclear Tests”, which was supported by 26 states and on December 2, 2009, UNGA declared 29 August as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.
The declaration is celebrated around the world and calls the world to remember the dire consequences of nuclear tests and prevent these experiments in the future, along with engaging all information outreaches and events hosted by the UN, for the importance this day holds not just for Kazakhstan but for the whole world.
On August 26, 2010, Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan hosted a conference dedicated to the International Day, with participation from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other international organizations. The conference adopted a statement that especially noted the huge contribution of the First President Nazarbayev to a non-nuclear world with his historic decision to close one of the biggest nuclear sites in the world.
On October 12-13, 2011, the cities of Nur-Sultan and Semey hosted the International Forum “For a Nuclear-Free World”, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Independence and the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
The forum saw participation from many International organizations including IAEA, CTBTO, SCO, along with Nobel prize winners, foreign officials, and Parliament representatives from over the world.
Participants of the conference adopted the Astana Declaration, which recognized the International Day Against Nuclear Tests would contribute to a nuclear-free world.
On August 27-29, 2012, and along with the anniversary of closing the Semipalatinsk nuclear site, and International Day Against Nuclear Tests, Nur-Sultan, Semey, and Kurchatov hosted the International Conference “From Banning Nuclear Tests to a World Free of Nuclear Weapons”.
The conference was attended by leaders and members of parliament from 46 countries, with representatives from international organizations, politicians, scientists, NGOs, and Media.
During the conference, the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev announced the launch of the International project “ATOM” (Abolish Testing: Our Mission). The project objective is to achieve a real change through rallying people all over the world to fight against nuclear testing and weapons to a nuclear-free world. The project allows anyone in the world who is against nuclear weapons to sign a petition calling for an end to Nuclear testing.
The biggest event dedicated to the International Day against Nuclear Tests took place on September 5, 2013, at the UN General Assembly, and was attended by high-level representatives of international organizations and many representatives from around the world.
On August 29, 2016, within the framework of the initiation of the Global Anti-Nuclear Movement, together with the well-known NGO Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND) an International Conference “Building a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World” was held in Nur-Sultan. The event was dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.
The Conference was attended by representatives from 50 countries, including governments, NGOs, experts in the field of nuclear disarmament, and it adopted a final document “Vision of Astana: from radioactive haze to a world without nuclear weapons”.
On August 29, 2017, with the participation of the First President of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev and the Director-General of the IAEA Yukiya Amano, the grand opening of the building of the IAEA Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) Bank took place at the Ulba Metallurgical Plant. By providing its territory for the location of the LEU Bank, Kazakhstan made an additional contribution to strengthening the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the creation of a completely new mechanism for guaranteed supplies of LEU to the IAEA member states.
On August 29, 2018, Nur-Sultan hosted the International Conference of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) “Remembering the past, looking into the future.” The event was attended by members of the CTBTO Eminent Persons Group – well-known international figures and activist supporters of the entry into force of the Treaty, as well as the CTBTO Youth Group – young professionals and students from different countries.
2019 saw many events held in dedication to the International Day Against Nuclear Weapons, in Nur-Sultan, a ceremony was held for representing the “Nazarbayev Prize for a world without nuclear weapons and global security”, That year’s laureates were Lassina Zerbo, the CBTO Executive Secretary, and the late IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Amano family – his widow and his brother (Ambassador Mari Amano), as well as guests of honors from IAEA, and many other organizations and countries around the world.
At the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sent a video message to the participants of the ceremony, in which he noted that a world free of nuclear weapons, including a ban on nuclear tests, remains the most important priority of the United Nations in the field of disarmament. In this regard, the UN Secretary-General expressed gratitude to the First President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev for his commitment to this cause and the establishment of this award.
Finally, on August 29, 2019, in New York, the Permanent Representative of Kazakhstan Kairat Umarov handed over to the United Nations Secretariat the document on ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
This Year, on August 26, a videoconferencing event hold, dedicated to the International Day against Nuclear Tests. With the participation of the UN Secretary-General A. Guterres and the UN General Assembly President M. Bande, the CTBTO Executive Secretary officially presents the First President of Kazakhstan – Leader of the Nation N. Nazarbayev and the former President of Finland T. Halonen a new unique status – “champions CTBTO”.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Mukhtar Tileuberdi spoke at the event on behalf of the First President of Kazakhstan – Leader of the Nation Nursultan Nazarbayev.
In addition, official video conferencing events are planned to mark this date in the capitals of the United States and Great Britain.
For instance, on September 2, 2020, in Washington, the American NGOs “Arms Control Association” and the “Centre for Policy Research” (SUNY-Albany) will hold a webinar on the topic “Strengthening the Norm of the Nuclear Test Ban”, with the participation of American and Kazakh experts in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
On September 8, 2020, a webinar will be held in London on the topic “Multilateral Cooperation in the Post-COVID Period – A Chance to Achieve a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World.” The event will be attended by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Minister for European Neighbourhood and the Americas) of the United Kingdom, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Director General of the UN Office in Geneva, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Yerzhan Ashikbayev, and others