Trinity, Little Boy, Fat man, First Lighting, Chic….
Nice and fancy names remind us of the names of comic characters!
Well, they are the names given to the nuclear tests conducted by various countries.
It all started with Trinity.
Trinity has the distinction of being the first detonation of a nuclear device, conducted by the US in the early hours of 16 July 1945. Part of the Manhattan Project and was a plutonium device. The development resulted in “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9th August. Perhaps most devastating detonation mankind ever has seen. And hope and pray that humanity would never see it ever.
The race for technological supremacy in this domain led to the Soviet Union conducting its first test at Semipalatinsk Test site in Kazakhstan in 1949. The UK in 1952, France in 1960 and China in 1964. By 1996, Fat boy had a company of more than 2000. No further tests were conducted by these countries after 1996.
Buddha Smiled in India in 1074 and Shakthi reiterating it in 1998. Chagai followed Shakthi in 1998 in Pakistan. Unconfirmed Vela incident in the southern Indian ocean indicating Israel joining the club. North Korea is the latest entrant which started testing in 2006 and tested as recently as in 2017.
Nuclear weapons tests are generally categorised based on the medium or location of the test: Atmospheric, Underwater and Underground. In the early days of nuclear testing little consideration was given to its devastating effects on human life and the dangers of nuclear fallout from atmospheric tests.
On 2 December 2009, the 64th session of the UN General Assembly declared 29 August as “The International Day against Nuclear Tests” by unanimously adopting a resolution to end nuclear tests. The resolution was initiated by the Republic of Kazakhstan, in a way commemorating the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test site on 29 August 1991. The first official observance was in 2010. The day is devoted to enhancing public awareness and education about the effects of nuclear test explosions with a hope that it would lead to achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
The main mechanism for eradicating nuclear weapons testing is the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 September 1996. To date, 184 countries have signed the treaty and 168 have ratified it. For the Treaty to enter into force, it must be ratified by those states with nuclear capabilities. Unfortunately, the treaty is yet to enter into force and there are several geopolitical reasons for the same.
As indicated by UN Secretary-General in the disarmament agenda “Securing our Common Future” launched in 2018, a ban on testing is a measure that would serve both disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.
The brilliance of man to realise the enormous power stored in the atom, unfortunately, the first use has been for destruction. Humanity must live with guilt for generations to come. Bringing an irreversible end to nuclear explosions will prevent the further development of nuclear weapons. The International Day against Nuclear Tests has fostered a global environment that strongly advocates for a world free of nuclear weapons.
The fear of nuclear explosions and the consequences the humanity has seen has created a dent in the public perception about nuclear. Nuclear energy, what could be carbon-free, large scale multipliable replacement for energy from coal, must grapple with the issue of public acceptance.
The nuclear menace is once again on the rise. A complete ban on nuclear testing is an essential step in preventing the qualitative and quantitative improvement of nuclear weapons and in achieving nuclear disarmament.António Guterres, Secretary-General UN
The best way to honour the victims of nuclear tests is to prevent any in the future. Nuclear testing is a relic of another age and should have no place in the 21st century.
Toon: Reema Jaiswal
Logs: M. Sai Baba