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NZ Seeks Ban On All Weapons Of Mass Destruction

November 12 2001
“Ridding the world of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons has long been important to New Zealand. Since the recent terrorist attacks, there has been a surge in support internationally for this view” Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control Matt Robson said today.

The Minister’s remarks come as Phil Goff presented New Zealand’s statement to a conference in New York on the ban on nuclear testing. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was opened for signature in 1996 and New Zealand ratified it shortly after. “We were delighted when France signed and ratified the Treaty” said Mr Robson. “That ended nuclear testing in the Pacific, we hope, forever”.

“But we urge all countries that haven’t done so, especially those with nuclear weapons or significant nuclear power or research facilities, to sign the Treaty and ratify it in their parliaments, so it can enter into force. Banning nuclear testing, all around the world, is a crucial step towards nuclear disarmament.”

New Zealand is actively promoting the cause of nuclear disarmament at the United Nations First Committee, and seeking to strengthen the existing bans on biological and chemical weapons, Mr Robson said. “Our Ambassador for Disarmament, Clive Pearson has reported to me that there is heightened awareness of the need to keep nuclear, biological and chemical nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists, but countries have been slow to translate this into effective measures to eliminate these weapons.

“Total elimination of these weapons is the real solution. We have stressed this for years, and we will keep doing so” Mr Robson said.

New Zealand is part of the New Agenda group, which also includes Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden. This group was instrumental in securing at the 2000 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty an unequivocal undertaking from the nuclear weapon states, to totally eliminate their nuclear arsenals. “We were delighted at that commitment. But we want to see faster implementation.”

New Zealand has joined Brazil in putting forward a UN resolution highlighting the fact that the independent countries of the Southern Hemisphere, and much of the adjacent areas, are free of nuclear weapons. “We have all developed and joined nuclear-weapon-free zones” Mr Robson noted. “We call on the remaining Northern Hemisphere countries to make a similar contribution to a world free of nuclear weapons.”

New Zealand has also called for effective measures to verify the Biological Weapons Convention. “Many countries have signed up to the Treaty, but there is not yet a good process to detect the cheats. There must be internationally agreed measures to address this gap” Mr Robson said. “We urge those yet to sign the Biological Weapons Convention to do so urgently”.

Ends

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