Speech for Hiroshima Day by Tamilla Dauletbayeva
Wellington, New Zealand, August 3, 2014
I am a child of two countries where nuclear energy and weapons left visible scars in these countries’ histories. As someone who grew up in Ukraine during the years not long after the Chernobyl catastrophe, I was impacted by constant reminders in school, at home, and everywhere around me of the deadly implications of nuclear energy. 26th power plant exploded, forever changed Ukraine and its people. Thousands of lives have been affected and the count still continues.
By the time I moved to Kazakhstan, I had already read multiple books and articles of the nuclear testing sites in the vast steppes of Kazakhstan. But being there, seeing horrific consequences of nuclear testing on human body and health, working with disabled people affected by high doses of radiation in the settlements in close vicinity to former testing sites provided an even bigger horrendous picture of how humans can harm or even destroy themselves, nature and life on the planet as we know it. I was very proud of Kazakhstan when one of its first initiatives after gaining independence in 1991 was to destroy its nuclear arsenal and promote nuclear non-proliferation not only in the region, but globally. Only a month ago, by some amazingly twisted fortune I met with a Kazakhstan Ambassador-at-large for nuclear non-proliferation Mr. Barlybay Sadykov, here in Wellington. Members of civil society in Wellington and Mr. Ambassador were able to discuss current issues and future plans for further cooperation between Kazakhstan and New Zealand in the realm of promoting nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament worldwide. Maybe some of you have either heard or know about the Atom Project, which was launched in Kazakhstan in 2012. The project aims to gain international support to promote abolition of nuclear testing worldwide.
I was also privileged to attend classes at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary delivered by the prominent and eloquent advocate for nuclear non-proliferation Mr. Gareth Evans, former Australian Foreign Minister. For three weeks, he shared with us his experience on the work he did as a co-chair of Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Commission from 2008-2010 and as a current Convenor of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
From my personal experience of living in both Ukraine and Kazakhstan, working with people affected by nuclear testing in Kazakhstan and having professors like Gareth Evans talk about importance of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament I have learned the following:
• As long as at least one country is in possession of nuclear weapons, others will try to obtain or develop them as well.
• Nuclear weapons will be used at some point either deliberately or by mistake, human error or system error. The International community should be more concerned and alarmed about the non-deliberate use, which is a higher risk due to false alarms, human or system errors. The Ukraine and recent Fukushima tragedy are the prefect examples of such tragic accidents. Currently the threat is increasing as modern technology, cyber war and cyber terrorism can compromise communication lines and potentially lead to increased vulnerabilities at nuclear sites.
• Any such use of nuclear weapons will be catastrophic for the life on the planet as we know it.
A combined effort of multiple actors should move the nuclear disarmament agenda forward.
• A top down commitment from existing nuclear states and new nuclear states for minimization and eliminating nuclear weapons is crucial.
• We need to combine our efforts and exercise peer group pressure in the form of coalitions and leadership networks to forward the cause. Kazakhstan and New Zealand are the perfect examples of such coalition and networking.
• And finally, days like this and people like you and me create civil activism from grassroots level needed in pressuring governments to disarm.