UN Day to ban nuclear weapons testing

August 29th has been designated as a UN day to ban nuclear weapons testing. The day highlights the efforts made by the UN and other organisations to educate and inform about the importance of a ban on nuclear weapons testing, for the achievement of a safer and more secure world.

In July 2014  the UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon stated that -

 "Together let us demand an end to all nuclear tests and get on with the unfinished business of a world free from nuclear weapons."

Since their development in the 20th century, at every stage of development - from uranium mining to testing and usage - nuclear weapons have had catastrophic consequences for human health and the environment.

 Indeed, in 1984 the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) noted that -

"It's evident that the designing, manufacture, testing, possession and deployment of nuclear weapons are among the greatest threats to the right for life on earth which confront mankind today."

Since Hiroshima and Nagasaki the major nuclear powers have all tested weapons. The UK tested their weapons in the 1950s and 60s in the South Pacific and, believe it or not, on the Australian main land! To this day the UK veterans of these tests are still seeking personal injury compensation from the UK government for major health problems which they believe have been caused by their presence at the tests.

In the USA President Obama is currently seeking support for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Kazakhstan has closed it nuclear testing site and is spear-heading a campaign to rid the world of nuclear weapons in The Atom Project. (Take a few moments to watch this short yet powerful video documentary.)

Meanwhile, at an estimated capital cost exceeding £30 billion and flying in the face of support for arms reduction, the UK is about to embark on an upgrade of our Trident system. A leading UK newspaper has recently stated that this cost could now be as much as £80 billion. With threats from terrorism, climate change and major health pandemics - none of which would be addressed by the possession of nuclear weapons - it seems like madness to divert significant resources away from conventional defence spending, the health service and much needed public services. Also, with the windfall from cancelling Trident, the UK government could then  invest in a radical new approach to non-nuclear renewable energy projects.

Albert Einstein once said - "the unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking and thus we drift towards unparallelled catastrophe."

For me the possession of nuclear weapons and the deterrence argument is part of a patriarchal cold-war mindset. Arch bishop Desmond Tutu referred to nuclear weapons as "an obscenity". In a forth right article, the columnist Simon Jenkins - when commenting about Scottish independence - talked, specifically about the absurdity of Trident. For him all the evidence suggests that prestige and not defence is the only reason to keep this albatross. Music to my ears!

Earlier this month, members of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) met to mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.  The chairman of the NFLA, like so many of us, wants to see the major political parties have a rational debate about Trident, nuclear weapons and our future role in a troubled world. It seems to me that there has never been a better time for new and enlightened thinking. Let's not waste this opportunity.

 On a final note the UNHRC has concluded that -

"The production, testing, possession, deployment and use of nuclear weapons should be prohibited and recognised as crimes against humanity."

If  you care about the health of the planet and it's people and want to see an end to the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons, then join me in supporting The Atom Project by signing the petition today.

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