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DPRK nuclear weapons test highlights need for disarmament

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its third nuclear weapons test on Tuesday, 12 February 2013. This test is a worrying sign that countries still see nuclear weapons as a way of providing security and gaining power. Incentives for proliferation only increase when existing nuclear weapon possessors continue to postpone nuclear disarmament with arguments that nuclear weapons are still essential for their security, and when they continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems.

Every single nuclear test, such as the 1,151 tests by the United States, 969 by the Soviet Union, 210 by France, 45 each by the UK and China, and 6 each by India and Pakistan, has been carried out in order to prepare for the eventual use of nuclear weapons. However, as civil society experts have concluded in Reaching Critical Will's recently launched publication Unspeakable suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, any use of nuclear weapons would have unparalleled consequences on people’s health and the environment. The effects of the use of nuclear weapons reach beyond borders and throughout generations to impact our environment, economy, food production, and commerce; and undermine development goals and catastrophically harm people worldwide.

The DPRK's nuclear weapons test, as well as the sub-critical nuclear weapons tests conducted by the United States and the test launches of nuclear-armed delivery systems conducted by several nuclear weapon possessors, highlights the urgent need to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear weapons are inhumane, unacceptable, and appalling weapons, and no state should be proud to possess them or aspire to acquire them. Maintaining nuclear weapons is not a symbol of power or strength, but instead a constant reminder of the catastrophic humanitarian suffering that they have caused and continuously threaten to cause again,” says Beatrice Fihn, RCW Programme Manager and editor of the study Unspeakable suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

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