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UN chief urges member states to ratify global ban on nuclear weapon tests


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UN chief urges member states to ratify global ban on nuclear weapon tests

2011-08-30 04:05:33 GMT+7 (ICT)

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday urged all of its member states to ratify a treaty banning nuclear weapon tests.

"Current voluntary moratoriums on nuclear weapon tests are valuable, yet they are no substitute for a global ban," Ban said in a message marking the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

General Assembly President Joseph Deiss also called on all UN member states which have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so, citing the dangers for both humans and the environment from past tests. "The fallout of nuclear tests caused diseases, poisoned the food chain and contaminated the water and its ecosystems; these effects are still felt today," he said.

Out of the 195 UN Member states, 182 have so far signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and 154 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force, ratification is still required from China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.

"We urgently need new progress in achieving a world free of both nuclear tests and nuclear weapons," Ban said, citing the urgency and importance of the treaty's entry into force and noting that "it is a major element of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and it deserves the active support of all States."

In December 2009, the UN General Assembly established the International Day Against Nuclear Tests to mark the 20th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan where the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear weapon tests from 1949 until 1989.

Ban recalled his visit to the Semipalatinsk test site, near Kurchatov, while expressing his support for the Kazakh Government and people as they continue to cope with the aftermath.

Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, also stressed the importance of the closure of the Semipalatinsk site, noting that it was the scene of nearly a quarter of all nuclear weapon tests.

"It was an early example and it was a message, the message that the discontinuation of nuclear weapons tests is possible, discontinuation of a test site is possible or, going even further, discontinuation of nuclear weapons arsenals is possible," Tóth told UN Radio.

According to Tóth, between 400 and 500 nuclear weapon tests took place during the last five decades, but only two were reported during the past 10 years. Both tests were carried out by North Korea in 2006 and 2009, after which the Security Council imposed sanctions, including an arms embargo, inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to the country's nuclear and ballistic missile activities, and financial restrictions.

"Over the course of the Cold War, hundreds of nuclear weapon tests left behind a devastating legacy for local citizens and their natural environment," Ban said. "On this International Day against Nuclear Tests, I call on all States to take a bold step towards a safer and saner world for all."


-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-08-30

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