Why Biden should push for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

By Togzhan Kassenova, January 12, 2021

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Mary Dickson, an elegant woman and an eloquent speaker, is a playwright who lives in Salt Lake City. Nursultan is an adorable baby boy born in a Kazakh village near the former Soviet nuclear testing site, halfway across the world. What could possibly unite these two? The answer is that nuclear tests interfered with both their fates. Mary is an American downwinder, a thyroid cancer survivor who lost her sister, family members, and friends to cancer. She devoted her life to educating the public on the plight of those who suffered because of US nuclear tests (Dickson, 2007). Nursultan, born 30 years after the last Soviet nuclear test in Kazakhstan, suffers from a genetic disease—he has six fingers on one of his hands.

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Two nuclear superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, are responsible for most of the global nuclear fallout, since together they conducted more than 1,700 nuclear tests out of the total 2,000. Three decades since the last US and Soviet nuclear tests, the victims, now in their fourth generation and spread out across communities in Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, the Marshall Islands, parts of Kazakhstan, and the Altai region in Russia, continue to pay the high price. Of course, they aren’t alone; there are victims of other countries’ nuclear tests in other parts of the world as well.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author. 

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