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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

African Union official calls for advancing
peaceful application of nuclear tech

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 said.

“Countless 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.

Chergui said 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,” Chergui said.

“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.

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