INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

The 'Trinity' test on 16 July 1945 at 0.016 seconds after detonation. It was the first-ever nuclear explosion and the first of 1,032 U.S. nuclear tests.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

The Soviet Union carried out 715 nuclear tests, starting with the ‘RDS-1’ test detonated on 29 August 1949 in Semipalatinsk in today’s Kazakhstan.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

‘Hurricane’ was the first of 45 UK nuclear tests, conducted on 3 October 1952 at the Montebello Islands in Western Australia.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

The first of 210 nuclear tests by France was carried out on 13 February 1960 in the Sahara Desert of Algeria. Monument for victims of nuclear testing in Algeria (source: AVEN)

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

China conducted its first of 45 nuclear tests on 16 October 1964 at the Lop Nur test site.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

India conducted its first nuclear explosion (of a total of three) on 18 May 1974 in the Pokhran desert.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

Pakistan conducted its first of two nuclear tests on 28 May 1998.

INTERNATIONAL DAY AGAINST NUCLEAR TESTS – 29 AUGUST 2012

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted one test in October 2006 and another in May 2009.

International Day against Nuclear Tests 2012

The first Soviet nuclear test was conducted on 29 August 1949.

In December 2009, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 29 August as the International Day against Nuclear Tests (see also UN Website and message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon). This day was proposed by Kazakhstan as it marks both the closure of the former Soviet Semipalatinsk Test Site in 1991 in modern-day Kazakhstan and the date of the first Soviet nuclear test conducted there in 1949.

Nuclear testing caused a global rise in levels of atmospheric radioactivity (source: WDR).

According to the resolution establishing it, the International Day against Nuclear Tests aims to prevent more of the “devastating and harmful effects on the lives and health of people and the environment” caused by nuclear testing. Over 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted since the very first nuclear explosion, the Trinity test on 16 July 1945 in New Mexico, United States. Together, the fallout from these tests dwarfed the amount of radioactivity released into the environment from any nuclear accident.

The importance of bringing the [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] CTBT into force cannot be overemphasized. The world has endured over 2,000 nuclear tests since 1945. Such tests poison the environment—and they poison the political climate as well. They breed mistrust, isolation and fear. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Message for the International Day against Nuclear Tests 2012
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth at the CTBTO's 15 years celebrations in February 2012
Servicemen often played the role of guinea pigs in the first decades of nuclear testing.

The servicemen involved and people living close to the test sites often paid with their health, some even with their lives; see chapter effects of nuclear testing. Some of the world’s over 60 nuclear test sites (see interactive map) continue to be contaminated.

Click for graphic yield comparison (not included: the 50 megaton Tsar Bomba).

Nuclear testing also poisoned the political environment, leading to an arms race with ever more destructive weapons. The 1961 Soviet Tsar Bomba had an explosive power of around 4,000 Hiroshima bombs detonated simultaneously.

Today is a day to commemorate the victims of nuclear testing and to learn for the future: Are we serious about nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation? About working for a world free of nuclear weapons? The litmus test will be whether or not we will succeed in finally banning all nuclear tests.CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the international instrument to end all nuclear testing in a verifiable way. Nuclear testing has essentially screeched to a halt with the adoption of the CTBT in 1996, which forged an international zero-tolerance stance against nuclear testing: The handful of nuclear tests conducted after 1996 (by India, Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea - DPRK) received universal condemnation and unanimously adopted UN Security Council sanctions.


Currently 183 States have signed the Treaty and 157 have ratified it (see interactive map). However for the CTBT to enter into force, eight States - from a list of 44 defined as nuclear technology holders - have yet to ratify to meet the Treaty’s stringent entry into force requirement: China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

EVENTS:

The ATOM PROJECT, an international campaign to end nuclear testing, was launched at the Astana forum.

International Forum for a Nuclear Weapons Free World in Astana, Kazakhstan

The International Forum for a Nuclear Weapons Free World opens on 29 August 2012 in Astana, Kazakhstan. It marks the 21st anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk Test Site and the country’s continuing efforts towards the elimination of nuclear threats. Lassina Zerbo, Director of the CTBTO's International Data Centre Division, will address the conference (speech - PDF).

General Assembly to mark Observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests

On 6 September 2012, the UN General Assembly will hold a special session to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the meeting, which is being convened by the General Assembly’s President and organized in cooperation with Kazakhstan.