UNITED NATIONS, Aug 27 (APP): Reiterating its support to the objectives of the nuclear test-ban treaty, Pakistan has reminded the international community of its voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing since 1998, despite regional security threats.
“Pakistan remains committed to the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world,” Ambassador Muhammad Aamir Khan, deputy permanent representative of Pakistan, told a virtual meeting held at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed annually on 29 August.
The Day has been commemorated annually since 2010.
The date 29 August marks the anniversary of the 1991 closure of the Semipalatinsk test site in Kazakhstan, the largest nuclear test site in the former Soviet Union.
Despite the adoption of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty(CTBT) in 1996, thousands of nuclear weapons remain at the ready in stockpiles across the world.
In his remarks, the Pakistani representative said that Pakistan had made several proposals for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons and their means of delivery following the first nuclear tests in South Asia in 1974, but regretted none of them met a favourable response.
“Pakistan was not the first to conduct a nuclear test in South Asia and would not be the first to resume testing”, he told delegates from around the world.
“Despite regional security threats, Pakistan has maintained a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing since 1998,” Ambassador Khan added. “These tangible measures are a demonstration of Pakistan’s commitment to the objectives and purposes of the CTBT.”
Pakistan, he pointed out, had participated actively and constructively in the CTBT negotiations and had voted in favour at the time of its adoption in the General Assembly in 1996.
Pakistan had since then been voting in favour of the annual CTBT resolution in the General Assembly’s First Committee, which deals with disarmament and international security matters. Pakistan is also an accredited Observer State of the CTBTO Preparatory Committee and regularly attends its meetings.
The Pakistani representative also urged the international community to recognize and address the key motivations that drive States to possess nuclear weapons. These include: threats from larger military forces – both nuclear and conventional; the existence of longstanding disputes with more powerful states and the failure of the UN to implement its own resolutions to resolve such disputes; the failure of the UN collective security system to deter aggression and military threats and discrimination and selectivity in the application of international norms and standards.
In addition to their perilous impacts on human health and environment, he said nuclear tests aggravate regional and international tensions by jeopardizing regional strategic stability and widening mistrust among states leading to nuclear arms race. “These tests also eat up resources that could be diverted to development activities.”
These legitimate motivations, the Pakistani representative added, were “different from those of states that retained nuclear weapons as a matter of prestige, either to maintain or to attain the status of a global power.”
Opening the online meeting, the UN Disarmament chief, Izumi Nakamitsu, said this year’s commemoration falls 75 years after the United States first conducted a nuclear test, resulting in the use of atomic weapons against Japan and some 2,000 more tests carried out by at least eight countries over the succeeding decades. Impacts on the environment, health and economic development were still being felt today.
“The best way to honour the victims of past nuclear tests is to prevent any in the future,” she stated.
“As the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) has said, nuclear testing is a relic of another era, and should remain there.”
As Ms. Nakamitsu, the UN High Representative for Disarmament, pointed out, the current era is marked by “increasingly hostile” relations between nuclear arm states seeking to improve the quality and, in some cases, quantity, of their arsenals.
For UN General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for collective action to safeguard humanity, including by making a nuclear-free world a priority.
“The very survival of humanity hinges on our resolute agreement that nuclear weapons are not to be used and should be forever eliminated. A nuclear weapons-free world is the only true guarantee to safeguard civilization from this existential threat,” he said.
Although 184 countries have signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, and 168 have ratified it, the treaty has yet to enter into force.
This will only happen when it is ratified by eight countries: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres once again called for all states that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so without further delay.
“The nuclear menace is once again on the rise. A complete ban on nuclear testing is an essential step in preventing the qualitative and quantitative improvement of nuclear weapons and in achieving nuclear disarmament,” he said in a message for the Day.
Among others who spoke at the meeting were the representatives of China, Brazil, ASEAN, the EU, Cuba, Germany and the Philippines.