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Nuclear Disarmament Group Delivers Communiqe

Nuclear Disarmament Ginger Group Delivers Communique

New Zealand and the other "New Agenda" countries will keep up the diplomatic pressure for real progress to be made on nuclear disarmament, Foreign Minister Phil Goff said today.

The seven countries of the New Agenda initiative for nuclear disarmament (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and New Zealand) have issued a fresh statement of their approach at the United Nations in New York today.

"The New Agenda countries enjoyed considerable diplomatic success at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review conference earlier this year," Mr Goff said. "The New Agenda group became the negotiating partner for the nuclear weapon states as the Conference drew up the 'practical steps' for nuclear disarmament that gained consensus support.

"The unequivocal political undertaking given by the five nuclear weapon States 'to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals' demonstrates a new determination to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

"Recognition that nuclear weapons cannot be allowed to exist indefinitely was a singular step forward.

"New Agenda countries will be pressing for the implementation of the undertakings made at the conference, and are determined to keep minds focussed on achieving nuclear disarmament.

"This is an area where the movement towards disarmament can easily grind to a halt if the effort doesn't go in, year after year, conference after conference.

"New Zealand has a long history at the forefront of moves to rid the planet of nuclear weapons. On our own we have limited impact. In a group of like-minded and equally determined countries we can and will make a difference."

The Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden met today to issue the communique. New Zealand's Ambassador to the United Nations represented Mr Goff whose travel arrangements did not allow for him to be there in person.

The full statement, issued in New York on 13 September, is attached.
ENDS


Communique follows…


Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the New Agenda Countries (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden)

New York 13 September
Communique

Meeting to review progress on their joint initiative Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World: The Need for a New Agenda, the Ministers noted that their initiative had advanced the agenda for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. They stressed that this goal remains a matter of real urgency and must be delivered through an accelerated process of negotiations on all fronts.

The Ministers warmly welcomed the positive and substantial outcome of the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The unequivocal political undertaking given by the five nuclear weapon States “to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals” demonstrates a new determination to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Recognition that nuclear weapons cannot be allowed to exist indefinitely was a singular step forward.

This had been achieved against a background of limited progress in negotiations in the field of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, and a failure to grasp the opportunities of the post-cold war security environment. The programme of action agreed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference must now be implemented fully and progress reported regularly through the review mechanisms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Ministers expressed concern at on-going challenges to the non-proliferation regime. They urged the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve universal adherence to the NPT. They repeated their call on those three states (India, Pakistan, Israel) which are not parties to the NPT and which operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities to accede to the Treaty as non-nuclear weapon states and to place their nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards.

They stressed the importance of full compliance with the provisions of the NPT.

The Ministers called for the early commencement of negotiations on nuclear arms reductions between the United States and the Russian Federation in light of the NPT outcome. They looked forward to early action by the five nuclear weapon states on the series of undertakings made by them at the NPT Review Conference. All states must contribute to the achievement of the objectives agreed at the Review Conference.

They called on the parties to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) to preserve its integrity and validity. They reiterated their call on them to refrain from the implementation of any measure that would undermine the Treaty’s purpose. They encouraged them in this way to contribute to the creation of more favourable conditions for further negotiations on limiting strategic arms to which they have committed themselves at the NPT Review Conference.

In this context, they called on all states to refrain from decisions that could impact negatively on nuclear disarmament, lead to a new arms race or be inconsistent with the commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The Ministers regretted that the agreement at the NPT Review Conference for the immediate establishment of a body to deal with nuclear disarmament in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva had not yet been acted upon.

The Ministers underlined the importance of the NPT Review Conference agreement for the entry into force of the CTBT and the negotiation of a ban on the production of fissile materials. They also welcomed the agreement to begin consideration of the broader verification regime that will be required in a world without nuclear weapons.

The Ministers concluded that international peace and stability can best be maintained and enhanced with the involvement of the international community as a whole. Multilateral engagement and further progress on disarmament is crucial to this. The Ministers would continue to pursue the New Agenda initiative with determination.

They announced that they will table a draft resolution at the First Committee of the 55th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

ENDS


Background


The New Agenda initiative was launched in 1998 by the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia (which later withdrew), South Africa and Sweden. Concerned by the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament efforts following the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and at the implications of the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, the group sought to inject fresh thinking and a new momentum into multilateral consideration of the issues.

International support for the New Agenda has grown. The 1999 UN General Assembly adopted the New Agenda resolution with 111 countries in favour, 13 against and 39 abstentions. At the 2000 NPT Review Conference the New Agenda group became the negotiating partner for the nuclear weapon states as the Conference drew up the key forward-looking “practical steps” for nuclear disarmament which gained consensus support.

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