European Interest

Austria’s Foreign Minister Schallenberg: “Finally Ban Nuclear Tests!”

Alexander Schallenberg @a_schallenberg

On the occasion of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests on 29 August, Foreign Minister of Austria Alexander Schallenberg calls on the so-called key states – Egypt, China, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States – to finally ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

“We need the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty more urgently than ever. It cannot be that eight states hold the key to our collective security and handle it so carelessly. I urge these key states to finally take this important step for global security,” says Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg.

Adopted in 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty prohibits all nuclear test explosions. The global monitoring system embedded in the treaty would practically make the secret development of deployable nuclear weapons impossible. Out of the 186 signatory states, 178 have ratified it. However, the ratifications of the eight mentioned key states are still missing for its entry into force. Austria has been a state party since 1997 and a strong advocate for nuclear disarmament.

“The geopolitical tensions highlight the urgent need for sustainable progress in nuclear disarmament. Russia’s nuclear sabre-rattling, North Korea’s missile program, and possible further nuclear tests are symptomatic of the negative developments and dramatically increased nuclear risks,” urges the Foreign Minister for swift global steps towards nuclear disarmament.

The support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty underscores Austria’s pioneering role, as it also hosts the commission that prepares the treaty for the day of its entry into force (CTBTO Preparatory Commission). Austria’s engagement focuses on the catastrophic humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and the high risks of so-called nuclear deterrence. In this context, the Foreign Ministry recently published an overview of the latest scientific studies that aim to provide a shared factual basis for disarmament initiatives.

“Especially now, when the threat of nuclear conflict is higher than ever before, we must place the humanitarian impacts of a potential nuclear weapon use at the center of the discussion,” emphasizes the Foreign Minister.

The “Trinity Test” depicted in the film “Oppenheimer” is an example of these new insights. They show that the radiation effects of nuclear weapon tests on the civilian population, as conducted in New Mexico in 1945, are significantly more far-reaching and serious than initially admitted.

“The world must no longer turn a blind eye to the threat of nuclear weapon use, testing, or accidents. We must destroy nuclear weapons before they destroy us,” concludes Foreign Minister Schallenberg.

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