For information only - not an official document

27 August 2010

First Observance of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests:
CTBTO/Kazakh Exhibition opens at Vienna International Centre

VIENNA, 27 August (UN Information Service) - A joint exhibition from the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the International Organizations in Vienna, including photographs showing the effects of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, will be opened on Monday 30 August at the Vienna International Centre (VIC).

The Kazakh exhibition entitled 'From Epicenter of Nuclear Tests to Eurasian Nucleus of Prosperity: August 29 - the International Day against Nuclear Tests', marks the closure of the nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan in 1991 and celebrates the International Day against Nuclear Tests as introduced by the UN General Assembly in 2009. It is complemented with additional panels and multimedia material from CTBTO.

From 1945 to 1996, over 2000 nuclear devices were detonated in over 60 different locations around the world by the United States, the Soviet Union, France, the United Kingdom and China. Of these 2000 nuclear explosions, over 450 were detonated by the former Soviet Union at Semipalatinsk, with devastating effects on the surrounding landscape.

During his visit to Kazakhstan in April 2010 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was deeply moved when visiting the site: "It's a sobering experience for me, to stand on the Ground Zero where so many nuclear tests were conducted. We should not repeat this kind of legacy - this is an awful legacy." The Kazakh photographs show the environmental and human consequences of nuclear explosions carried out at Semipalatinsk. In contrast there will also be photographs showing Kazakhstan in the 21st century, including the natural beauty of the Kazakh landscape, the diversity of its people and the peaceful application of nuclear energy.

The media are invited to the opening of the joint exhibition and reception at 12 noon on Monday 30 August in the Rotunda, Vienna International Centre.

The joint exhibition will be officially opened by Kazakh Ambassador Yerzhan Kazykhanov and the Executive Secretary of CTBTO, Tibor Tóth. Maher Nasser, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Vienna, will moderate the event.

The cumulative power of the nuclear explosions as Semipalatinsk, both above and below ground is believed to be equal to 2,500 Hiroshima bombs. People in the area around Semipalatinsk are continuing to suffer in the form of birth defects and mutations, immunological deficiencies, cancer and other diseases from what are believed to be the effects of the nuclear tests. The United Nations have sponsored a programme of support to the Semipalatinsk area covering environmental, health, economic recovery and humanitarian assistance.

Nuclear testing in Kazakhstan was stopped on 29 August 1991 following a presidential decree by the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The exhibition, organized by the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the International Organizations in Vienna and CTBTO with the support of UNIS Vienna aims at raising awareness about the devastating human and environmental toll of nuclear explosions.

"We cannot pass these challenges to succeeding generations. We must each do our part to build a safer, more secure world today", Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded member states in his statement on the observance of the International Day.

The joint exhibition, which runs from 30 August until 3 September, can be viewed as part of the guided tours of the VIC, organized by the UNIS Visitors Service.

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Media interested in attending the event need to register by writing to: by 10 am Friday 27 August 2010.

For further information contact:

Irene Hoeglinger-Neiva
Information Officer, UNIS Vienna
Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-4448