ASTANA – The ATOM Project, an international campaign against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons, is calling on the world to commemorate all victims of nuclear weapons tests and nuclear explosions with a minute of silence on August 29 at 11:05 a.m. according to respective time zone’s local time.
When clock hands show 11:05, they represent the Roman letter V, which stands for “victory.” “It is hoped that it will signify a victory of common sense over fear and a victory for nuclear disarmament efforts around the world,” the ATOM Project said in its press release on August 7.
The month of August is significant to anti-nuclear weapons activists around the world. It was on August 6 that Hiroshima and the planet felt the trembling of the first nuclear weapon used in war. That same trembling was felt three days later when a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. These two explosions instantly took the lives of more than 250,000 people, erasing the two cities from the face of the Earth. Today, the threat of another nuclear explosion has grown stronger as tens of thousands of nuclear weapons remain around the world, terrorist groups seek so called dirty bombs and the power of one nuclear bomb has increased more than 100 times compared to the ones from 60 years ago.
The ATOM Project’s international online petition campaign launched on Aug. 29, 2012 by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has gained support internationally with more than 70,000 signatures from people in more than 100 countries so far.
Kazakhstan has been continuously active on issues of disarmament and non-proliferation because the country and its people suffered horrendous consequences as a result of Soviet era nuclear testing. From 1949 to 1991, the USSR conducted more than 450 nuclear weapons tests at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in eastern Kazakhstan, bringing illness and death to more than 1.5 million people in the region and radioactive pollution to a huge swath of land. In the second part of the 20th century, nuclear tests were also conducted by the United States, China, France and Britain as they developed their nuclear arsenals, as well as India and Pakistan.
On the anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear explosions, ATOM Project Honorary Ambassador Karipbek Kuyukov urged the world to re-think the decisions it’s made concerning nuclear weapons. Kuyukov was born without arms as a result of his parents’ exposure to nuclear weapons testing. Despite that challenge, he has become a renowned artist using only his mouth and feet to draw and has dedicated his life to the nuclear weapons non-proliferation movement.
“Today, we note the positive role the international antinuclear movement The ATOM Project has played in helping the international community understand the need to fight the nuclear weapons threat and how that threat continues to hang over all the people of our planet,” he said. “For many years, the truth of the dangers of nuclear weapons was classified, despite the fact that for many decades thousands of people who received high doses of radiation as a result of nuclear weapons explosions suffered and died from diseases or became mentally or physically disabled.
The lingering negative effects of nuclear weapons require thousands of years to decompose, contaminating soil, air and water. Though one of the world’s largest nuclear weapons testing sites, Semipalatinsk in eastern Kazakhstan, has been shut down, the international community has yet to fully embrace a global and permanent end to nuclear weapons testing and other test sites are basically dormant. And new countries appeared who are seeking to acquire their own nuclear arsenals.”
“New global and regional security threats have emerged in our modern, interdependent world, but the possibility of mass destruction as a result of the use of nuclear weapons or a small-scale nuclear dirty bomb remains humanity’s most serious threat. The consequences could be catastrophic if an international terrorist group is able to acquire even a small-scale nuclear device,” said Kuyukov.
“We have an opportunity to once more remind the world about the tragic consequences of nuclear testing and to push the global community towards more decisive actions to achieve a final and definitive ban of such testing,” President Nazarbayev told a conference in Astana in August 2012 as he announced The ATOM Project. “Under the project, any human being on Earth who stands against nuclear weapons can sign an online petition urging governments of the world to abandon nuclear tests forever and ensure early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. I urge the participants of the conference and all people of goodwill to support The ATOM Project and make the creation of a non-nuclear weapons world our main goal.”