On the 9th International Day Against Nuclear Tests, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) stands in solidarity with all those communities around the world that have been environmentally, socially and physically damaged by the huge number of such tests by the Nuclear Weapon States, including the UK.
‘The International Day Against Nuclear Tests’ was instituted in 2010 by the United Nations following the unanimous adopting of resolution 64/35. The resolution calls for increasing awareness and education “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.” The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, together with a large number of sponsors and cosponsors as part of commemorating the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991.
The NFLA welcomes the statement of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the International Day:
“The legacy of nuclear testing is nothing but destruction. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is vital to ensuring there are no more victims; it is also essential to advancing nuclear disarmament. On the ‘International Day Against Nuclear Tests’, I reiterate my call for all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. In a world of rising tensions and divisions, our collective security depends on it” (1)
NFLA is highly alarmed that in just the past few weeks both Russia and the United States have tested new nuclear-capable weapons following the decision of both Governments to abrogate from the INF Treaty – which brought about considerable nuclear disarmament in Europe in the 1980s. A significant radiation incident appears to have taken place in Russia due to an accident with a nuclear weapon test a few weeks ago, though it is shrouded in secrecy over conflicting public statements from within Russia. Such an incident shows the true danger of testing nuclear weapons. (2)
The NFLA are cooperating with its partner group Mayors for Peace to host a joint seminar in Manchester that partly considers the impact of the nuclear test programme. In conjunction with the Embassy of Kazakhstan, the seminar’s keynote speaker will be Karipbek Kuyukov, a Global Ambassador for the ATOM Project. This seminar is being held in Manchester Central Library on September 13th, close to the International Day of Peace and the International Day to Ban Nuclear Weapons.
Forty-five years ago, Karipbek was born in a small village, just miles from where the Soviet Union conducted more than 450 nuclear weapons tests at Semipalatinsk. Those tests exposed his parents to radiation and resulted in Karipbek being born without arms. Karipbek has overcome many obstacles to become an anti-nuclear weapons activist and renowned artist, whose works have been shown around the world. Today, Karipbek often paints portraits of the victims of nuclear testing and, as honorary Ambassador to The ATOM Project, speaks out against nuclear weapons at conferences and events held in such places as the United Nations and the United States Congress. (3)
Also speaking will be Dr Becky Alexis-Martin of Manchester Metropolitan University, who is an advisor to the British Nuclear Test Veterans Association (BNTVA), and has chartered the health issues of those affected by nuclear tests across the world. Vijay Mehta of Uniting for Peace will advocate the alternative to such policies is supporting peace education initiatives in government and peace studies departments in our universities. Dave Cullen of Nuclear Information Service will conclude the Manchester seminar by talking of the likely huge costs and risks of the UK Government’s Trident replacement programme. (4)
Karipek Kuyukov will also be speaking to MPs at the Westminster Parliament and to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament in the days prior to the Manchester seminar.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“Following closely on from the 74th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic weapon attacks, NFLA remembers all those people and communities that have been directly damaged by the testing of nuclear weapons. Whether it is Semipalatinsk or Maralinga, the Marshall Islands or Los Alamos and the area around Nevada, the global environment has been badly damaged by the use and testing of nuclear weapons. Many people have endured terrible health problems, which have been passed on to their children and grandchildren. NFLA is delighted to cooperate with Mayors for Peace to bring the message of those directly affected by such tests to a wider audience. The only true answer to this ongoing problem is to eliminate nuclear weapons, and I urge Councils to join with us and other groups in achieving that critical objective.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) United Nations, 29th August 2019
(2) For the most recent information on the Russian nuclear test accident see Business Insider, 26th August 2019 – https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-missile-disaster-shows-signs-nuke-reactor-blew-up-experts-2019-8?r=US&IR=T
(3) Information on Karipek Kuyukov and the Atom Project –
(4) NFLA / UK & Ireland Mayors for Peace Joint Seminar, Manchester Central Library, Meeting Room 1, St Peter’s Square, Manchester, Friday September 13th 2019, 1.30pm – 3.30pm
“The humanitarian impacts, costs & dangers of nuclear weapons in the wider campaign for a more peaceful world”
• Councillor Eddy Newman, Manchester City Council Mayors for Peace and NFLA representative – seminar introduction
• Karipbek Kuyukov, Kazakh artist and nuclear non-proliferation campaigner – the personal effects of nuclear weapons testing and the need for a nuclear weapons free world
• Dr Becky Alexis-Martin, Lecturer in Political & Cultural Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University – Disarming Doomsday, the Human Impacts of Nuclear Weapons since Hiroshima
• Vijay Mehta, Co-founder of Uniting for Peace – How not to go to War: Establishing Departments for Peace and Peace Centres Worldwide
• Dave Cullen, Director of Nuclear Information Service – Trouble Ahead: Risks and Rising Costs in the UK Nuclear Weapons Programme