International Day Against Nuclear Test with Deandra Madeena
Since the first nuclear test explosion in 1945, there are at least 1,056 nuclear rest explosion that have been detonated on earth. Given the history of catastrophic nuclear accidents and the humanitarian impacts and implications of nuclear radiations, banning nuclear rest and eliminating nuclear weapons have become urgent humanitarian necessities.
Introduction: A brief background about myself, I am currently interning at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Head Quarter, in Vienna.
Question: Why there is such thing as Nuclear Test ban? Why not banning nuclear weapons straight away?
Deandra: I hope there is a simpler way to have the total abolishment of nuclear weapons but sadly that’s not how international relations work. Countries that still possess nuclear weapons will not disarm their arsenals anytime soon. They have their own considerations and conflicting factors that refrain themselves from completely disarming their nukes.
Question: Why countries conduct nuclear test?
Deandra: If they want to advance their nukes and want to have more sophisticated arsenals, they usually test their weapons. Or if a country has new design, that test it to see if the new design will be effective and efficient.
Deandra: What we must know, countries have come together to halt the proliferation/spread of nuclear weapons. The solid example will be the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or what famously known was the NPT. This treaty is arguably the most adhered treaty with the most members. Other treaties related to nuclear weapons or specifically nuclear weapon test include the Partial Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the newest initiative is the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. We will discuss about this further later.
Question: Has the NPT been effective?
Deandra: To certain degree, yes. The example is Iran Nuclear Deal before the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Iran deal.
Questions: Why countries are still allowed to test their nukes?
Deandra: Basically, there are 4 types of nuclear test. Nuclear test can be carried out in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water and Underground. The first test was conducted by the US back in 1945 and the last one by North Korea in September 2017. Currently, the only test ban treaty that has entered into force is the PTBT. However, it is only for banning nuclear weapon tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water. Not underground.
Questions: Is there other way to use nuclear technology? Aside from the weapons?
Deandra: Yes. For electricity, for research, for medical purposes and another example is for plant mutation breeding. Plan mutation breeding is what Indonesia is currently doing. Some of the Tempe, soy sauce and rice that we eat in Indonesia are made by corps developed by nuclear technology.
Question: Is there any regulatory body or other organisations that are responsible for forbidding nuclear testing?
Deandra: Yes. CTBT-O or Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. The organisation is trying the best it can to get the CTBT enter into force. CTBT is a treaty that focuses on all kinds of nuclear test. It has opened for signature in 1996, but until now has not entered into force, meaning it has not been implemented yet because some nuclear weapons states have not ratified or signed the treaty.
Question: Why nuclear test is dangerous?
Deandra: Since the first nuclear test explosion on July 16, 1945, at least eight nations have detonated 2,056 nuclear test explosions at dozens of test sites from Lop Nor in China, to the atolls of the Pacific, to Nevada, to Algeria where France conducted its first nuclear device, to western Australia where the U.K. exploded nuclear weapons, the South Atlantic, to Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, across Russia, and elsewhere. These tests have affected and contaminated our environment and civilians.
Deandra: Most of the test sites are in the lands of indigenous peoples and far from the capitals of the testing governments. The early tests—528—were detonated in the atmosphere, which spread radioactive materials through the atmosphere. Many underground nuclear blasts have also vented radioactive material into the atmosphere and left radioactive contamination in the soil.
Deandra: Why is it important to ban nuclear test and what are the effects of nuclear testing?
o Effects of radionuclides
o Effects of different levels of radiation
o Radiation exposure has been associated with most forms of leukaemia, as well as cancer of the thyroid, lung and breast.
Deandra: One example of the danger of nuclear radiation is the case of the case of Karipbek Kuyukov. Karipbek Kuyukov is an artist and nuclear non-proliferation activist born without arms because of his parents’ exposure to radiation from nuclear weapons testing. He has devoted his life and art to making sure that no one else suffers the devastating effects of nuclear weapons testing.
Deandra: There are solid examples of nuclear accidents and incidents. Although they were not necessarily results of nuclear test (they could be a disaster of nuclear power plants), we all have witnessed the effects and consequences of nuclear radiations. Why would countries risk it? Why would countries risk more innocent lives to test their bombs?
Deandra: I believe, as young people we have to get to know and take this matter seriously. We must do anything that we can do to stop these countries to test their nuke. One way to do it is to be involved in this kind of forum or discussion to gain knowledge about the issue. We can also increase people’s awareness about the danger of nuclear test. Most importantly, urge our government to do something about it. For Indonesia, now we can urge out government to ratify to Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty.
The discussion was led by Deandra Madeena, an intern to the IAEA and a mentor at UNIA . Feel free to drop your comment and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org