Remarks by Csaba Kőrösi, President of the 77th session of the General Assembly – General Assembly plenary meeting: International Day against Nuclear Tests

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29 August 2023

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

“Every effort should be made to end nuclear tests”.

These were our words in 2010, when the General Assembly declared the International Day against Nuclear Tests on 29 August.

Yet, today in this Assembly, there is little reason to celebrate.

Heightened distrust, geopolitical competition and a growing number of armed conflicts have only increased the dangers in our world. Particularly if we consider the regular threats of resorting to a nuclear strike in the on-going war against Ukraine.

This has rightly raised alarm – but what has been our response?

Global military spending reached a record 2.2 trillion dollars in 2022.

We see many signs that nuclear stockpiles and capabilities are growing, contravening the NPT.

Does it make any sense to threaten a neighbouring country with nuclear strike?

Has this approach decreased conflicts?

Are we now safer?

Not at all.

We are closer than any other time in this century to global catastrophe.

And yet we fail to see the terrifying trap that we have set for humanity by betting on nuclear weapons.

When public funds are diverted in this way, when our own words are ignored, we have a duty to ask:

How serious are our pledges to focus on overcoming poverty and curbing pollution, climate change, or biodiversity loss?

Will we protect our newest human right: the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment?

Or are our lofty pledges nothing but words?

Our investment in and ongoing modernization of nuclear weapons is simply incompatible with our goals, aspirations, and promises.

We need a human-centred approach to disarmament.

One focused on preventing suffering and pointless environmental destruction.

And one implemented through an inclusive and consistent multilateral process.

Many of you have worked tirelessly to bring about an end to nuclear tests.

I commend Kazakhstan for leading these efforts and for initiating the declaration of this International Day.

We cannot allow the dangers to grow.

The CTBT is a key part of the international disarmament structure.

It has created a powerful norm against nuclear testing.

Yet, its failure to enter into force – 27 years after its adoption – is a serious loophole in our global framework.

A stark reminder that we have unfinished business.

I call on the remaining Annex 2 countries to finally sign and ratify the CTBT.

To follow the lead of the 34 Annex 2 nations that have already done so.

To join the overwhelming majority supporting the CTBT.

It is our duty to ensure that the ban on nuclear testing is legally binding for all States.

We need the right policies and safeguards to protect us against mistakes and poor decision-making.

We must remember that the use of any nuclear weapon for any purpose will immediately spiral out of control. That the so called “limited nuclear war” does not exist. But the responsibility of those trying to familiarize the public with it, without telling the truth of the consequences of a nuclear holocaust, is unlimited.

For the safety of everyone around the globe, we must continue working towards a world free from the nuclear threat.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

“Who is important to you?”

“What do you want to protect?”

Teruko Yahata was eight years old when the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Today, at 85, she asks these questions during her presentations to global audiences about the dreadful power of a nuclear blast.

We must learn from history, especially at such a moment, fraught with so many dangers.

In the name of all those who suffered from nuclear testing or nuclear detonations,

In the name of our loved ones, and the future generations,

It is time to prevent global nuclear destruction.

It is time to put an end to the threat of our collective suicide.

This can be your legacy.

I thank you.

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