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Statement by Ambassador Günter Sautter at the High-level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day against Nuclear Tests, September 8

08.09.2021 - Speech

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I align myself with the statements delivered by the EU and WEOG and would like to make the following remarks in Germany’s capacity as outgoing CTBT Art. XIV Co-Coordinator.

Since the beginning of the nuclear age more than 2000 nuclear tests have taken place.

In the early days, little consideration was given to their effects on human life. But awareness has grown incrementally and we now know about the harmful, even devastating effects that nuclear tests can have, and have actually had.

Indeed, nuclear testing has left its marks in the history of different countries, affected communities and regions of the world. The International Day against Nuclear Tests marks the closure of the Semipalatinsk test site thirty years ago. It stands for the tragic experience shared by many.

Today, we are all mindful of the consequences of nuclear testing. President Macron’s decision to bring them to light and better compensate the victims is important. Putting an end to nuclear testing has become a humanitarian imperative.

But it is more than that. It is a milestone the significance of which cannot be overestimated. Because the road to a world without nuclear weapons first passes through a world without nuclear testing.

Ending nuclear testing once and for all will constrain both the proliferation and the development of nuclear weapons. It will strengthen responsibility in nuclear affairs and facilitate nuclear disarmament.

25 years ago the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was opened for signature. It now counts 170 ratifications and 185 signatures. We commend Cuba and the Comoros for recently completing ratification.

 

Since the beginning of the millennium only North Korea has tested nuclear weapons. These tests were categorically, consistently and rightfully condemned by the international community.

Clearly, the universal norm against nuclear testing is in the making. For this process to become irreversible the CTBT must eventually enter into force –a step long overdue.

As outgoing co-coordinator for Article XIV of the CTBT, Germany calls on all countries that have yet to sign and/or to ratify the CTBT to do so without preconditions or delay. We call on China, on the DPRK, on Egypt, on India, on Iran, on Israel, on Pakistan and on the United States of America to allow the CTBT to eventually enter into force.

Pending the treaty’s entry into force let me reiterate Germany’s wholehearted support to the CTBTO – an outstanding example of multilateralism in practice.

As a member of the The Stockholm initiative for nuclear disarmament, I would also like to stress the initiatives’ commitment  to strengthening both the cause of the CTBT and the work of the CTBTO. To promote nuclear education we support all communities affected by nuclear weapons and former nuclear test sites and we are resolved to empower the young generation to shape our future here.

In the decades-long struggle against nuclear testing the role of civil society can hardly be overrated.

Physicists and physicians have have played an important role in helping us understand the effects of nuclear testing on human life. The Hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, remind us of the unspeakable horror that any use of nuclear weapons would cause. Think tanks and NGOs, mayors and parliamentarians have amplified the cause against nuclear testing.

It is high time for political leaders to accomplish that mission. Thank you.

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