Over 500 high-level officials including ministers from many countries gathered in Astana, Kazakhstan, on 12 October 2011 for the International Forum for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. The meeting was organized this year by the Kazakh government on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the closure of the former nuclear weapons test site in Semipalatinsk.
At the end of the day the Forum adopted a Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, urging all States to take concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament. The Declaration also calls on all States to ratify the CTBT and to refrain from nuclear testing or any other actions that would defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.
Among the main speakers was CTBTO Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, who said: “The global ban on nuclear weapon testing is yet to be completed through a legally binding global norm. Though a moratorium is in effect, moratoria can never be sufficient to completely shut the door on nuclear testing. Sadly, this is another lesson history teaches us. We need the certainty of a transparent, effective and verifiable legal instrument.”
“Close the door once and for all on nuclear testing,” concluded Tóth.
In his address, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano emphasized Kazakhstan’s important contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and linked these efforts to the work of the IAEA. The closure of the Semipalatinsk test site, he said, underscored and contributed to the goals of the CTBT as well as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
In his video message, the UN General-Secretary Ban Ki-moon said that the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site was a powerful symbol of hope for a nuclear-weapon-free world. He urged all States to continue working for global nuclear disarmament, declaring: “Let us move from ground zero to global zero – a world free of nuclear weapons for all of our children and all of our tomorrows.”
“Ending nuclear testing must remain a top priority,” said US President Barack Obama is his message, which was read to the participants. Obama complimented the Republic of Kazakhstan for its leadership role in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation and referred to the Kazakh-U.S. cooperation on these issues. He stated that the 20th anniversary of the Semipalatinsk test site closure is a reminder for the international community that ending nuclear testing must remain a top priority.
On 13 October participants had the opportunity to fly over the former nuclear weapons testing site and visit nuclear installations and research institutions in Kazakhstan that promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Read the Astana Declaration on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World here.
Read the full statement by CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth here.
Find the programme of the Forum and links to all the statements here.