ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) --
Working towards nuclear disarmament must go
hand-in-hand with enhancing global cooperation in peaceful
application of nuclear science and technology, Smail Chergui,
African Union (AU) Commissioner for Peace and Security, has
societies, especially in Africa, are without access to
life-saving nuclear medicine and are denied the benefits of
other peaceful nuclear applications in the areas of
environmental protection, disease control, agriculture and
industry,” Chergui said.
“We must therefore
ensure that advancing peaceful nuclear applications receive
equal attention and resources as do the areas of nuclear
non-proliferation and nuclear security,” the official said.
The AU Commissioner
made the comments at a ceremony held Tuesday on the premises of
the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Ethiopia’s capital Addis
Ababa to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the
closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site in Kazakhstan
as well as the International Day against Nuclear Tests.
Kazakhstan’s celebration is joined by the celebration of the 20th
anniversary of the signing of the African Nuclear Weapon Free
Zone Treaty and the 10th anniversary of the Central
Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.
The event was
organized to, among others, raise awareness on the adverse
consequences of nuclear testing and weapons.
“The African Union
is not only honored to host this event but is strongly committed
to the broader cause it symbolizes. Africa, like Kazakhstan,
suffered the negative consequences of nuclear-weapons testing,”
“After years of
tireless efforts, the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty,
also known as the Treaty of Pelindaba, was signed in 1996.
Through the Treaty, the continent collectively and unequivocally
rejected nuclear-weapons,” the Commissioner said.
“I would like to
reiterate that the African Union remains concerned that a
critical international instrument against nuclear testing, the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, has not yet entered into
force. While we commend states that have unilaterally imposed
moratoria against nuclear testing, this cannot be a substitute
for a universally, legally binding, transparent and verifiable
regime,” he said.
Without the Treaty,
the risk of return to nuclear testing will “be ever present and
with catastrophic consequences,” he added.
The AU Commissioner
called upon all concerned members of the international community
to act with a sense of urgency, responsibility and leadership,
in bringing the treaty into force.