By Ilya Kursenko
CTBTO Youth Group member
Originally published on In Depth News, 14 September 2018
Note: ON TRAIN FROM KURCHATOV TO ASTANA (IDN) – A Russian member of the CTBTO Youth Group, llya Kursenko, attended the five-day 2018 Youth International Conference of the CTBTO Youth Group and the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) which concluded on September 2 in Astana, capital city of the Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan.
The participants also travelled to Kurchatov, a town in East Kazakhstan Region in north-east Kazakhstan. Named after Soviet nuclear physicist Igor Kurchatov, the town was once the center of operations for the adjoining Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site. The nuclear facilities at Kurchatov are managed by the Kazakhstan Institute of Atomic Energy, a division of the country's National Nuclear Center. <WATCH VIDEO>
Kursenko talked to Katsuhiro Asagiri, IDN-INPS Multimedia Coordinator who also joined the group:
Now that the conference is coming to an end, it is time to reflect on what we have seen over the past days. I have to say honestly that my life will never be the same again after what I saw and experienced today (September 1).
We were at the testing site which was the experimental field for nuclear weapons. This was a life transforming experience. You stand there in the middle of a field, and see all around you the wide spaces and devastated buildings. And there is just death everywhere in the air – on the ground, and under the ground.
I wish to see nowhere in the world what we saw there at the experimental field. Radiation and all that: it was just the experience you need to understand the disaster nuclear weapons will bring upon us. I am a living example of a person who felt this experience.
Nuclear disarmament concerns everyone – not only politicians and scientists. It's something that concerns you and me and everyone else who lives on this planet. Because once nuclear weapons are in action, we will lose everything we love and value. It is our obligation to understand the nature of devastation that nuclear weapons can cause, and ensure that this never happens.
You will understand this once you see how Hiroshima and Nagasaki suffered atomic bombs and how innocent civilians suffered from those weapons. Or when you see people who suffered from the impact of nuclear testing here in Kazakhstan or Nevada: children exposed to radiation from atomic bombs, the shock among people who see the newborn exposed to radiation, and how parents would close their eyes and cry because they would not stand the sight of these children. When you see all of that, when you see people suffering, you would understand that it is the duty of everyone to do everything possible to avoid a repetition of what happened.
My participation as a CTBTO Youth Group member made me understand how important all this is. At first, nuclear agenda was only for people who study nuclear weapons or for people who study physics for example. And for me it was a great challenge to get into this scientific world, into this world of diplomats and to understand how this works and find a place for myself to learn and share my experiences. It was a struggle first but when I saw how actually we all have the same ground to negotiate the abolition of nuclear weapons, I understood how easy it is for us all to come to this common agreement and understanding that we do not want to see the world where nuclear weapons have any presence.
With all the actions and passions that both I and all of my fellows from the Youth Group and from the group of eminent persons and from whole CTBTO staff and from the whole international and global community take, we will ensure that the world is safe and prosperous.
Instead of destroying it, instead of bombing it and testing nuclear weapons, we would develop our world, we would build schools, we would provide education, we would do all of the things that maintain life and never be on the side of death. Never. Never. Never, having seen and learnt what happened here in Kurchatov at the testing site.
So I invite everyone on our planet to work for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
The opinion piece is the work of the CTBTO Youth Group member listed as author. The views expressed herein are those of the author and should not necessarily be seen as representing the Organization.