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International Day Against Nuclear Tests 2022: History and Significance

Observed by the United Nations (UN) on August 29 annually, the International Day against Nuclear Tests is a day that raises awareness about the devastating effects of testing nuclear weapons. The event urges world governments to end nuclear proliferation and put a stop to such tests. Several countries observe this day by conducting activities such as conferences, lectures, competitions and exhibits. Below, we look at the history and significance of the event.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests: History

The first nuclear test called Trinity was conducted on July 16, 1945, by the United States military in a desert in New Mexico. Nuclear technology was developed under J. Robert Oppenheimer of the Manhattan Project. After the first nuclear test, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9 in 1945, respectively, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Successive generations in those Japanese cities suffered from radiation-induced cancer and birth defects.

Later, the erstwhile Soviet Union conducted nuclear tests in 1949, the United Kingdom in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964. The Cold War phase (1947-1991) saw a nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The development of Nuclear weapons by Iran and North Korea has also been deeply concerning. In 1970, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons came into force and more than 190 UN member states are actively party to it.

Nuclear tests in the Semipalatinsk site of Kazakhstan by the Soviet Union had exposed Kazakh people to radiation fallouts, causing genetic defects in them. Kazakhstan shut down the site on August 29, 1991. It initiated the resolution 64/35, by which the UN established August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Tests, on December 2, 2009.

Before this, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted on 10 September 1996, but not ratified by all UN member states. CTBT Organisation (CTBTO) monitors the global development of nuclear weapons.

International Day Against Nuclear Tests: Significance

Nuclear tests cause extensive damage to not just human society, but also to the environment, plant and animal life. The International Day against Nuclear Tests keeps us alert about this so that we can urge our leaders to ensure a safer nuclear weapons-free future.

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