Nuclear testing today

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It must be remembered that the United States is not the only state that has tested nuclear weapons and that the Marshall Islands is not the only place in the world that has suffered from such tests. The latest nuclear detonation made by the United States took place in 1992; the Soviet Union tested this type of armament up to 1990; the United Kingdom until 1991; and France and China until 1996. Subsequently, India and Pakistan, who are not part of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, were detonating atomic bombs until 1998. Currently, the only country that continues to conduct such tests is North Korea. 

On 5th August, 1963 the Test-Ban Treaty was ratified, in the first instance by the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union, and later by many other countries. The treaty commits those countries to refrain from testing nuclear weapons either in the atmosphere or underwater but continued to allow underground testing. A few years later, on 5th March, 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed with the intention of reducing the world’s nuclear arsenal and avoiding the enormous risks involved. On 10th September, 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was signed, which has not yet been ratified by India, Pakistan or North Korea. A few months before the signing of this treaty, the French army carried out nuclear tests in the Mururoa Atoll which sparked a major protest campaign worldwide. 

On 29th August, the International Day Against Nuclear Tests commemorates the closure, 25 years ago, of the Semipalatinsk Test Site (or The Polygon) in Kazakhstan, where more than 450 nuclear tests were carried out. To remember this event, last August, Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, urged those states that have not yet done so, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, taking into account the catastrophic risks posed by this type of weaponry for human and environmental security, and ultimately for our very existence.

SemipatalinskCraters and boreholes dot the former Soviet Union nuclear test site Semipalatinsk in what is today Kazakhstan. Copyright CTBTO Preparatory Commission