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Minister disappointed by NPT conference

Minister disappointed by NPT conference

Disarmament Minister Marian Hobbs is disappointed a month-long meeting at the United Nations in New York has failed to agree on new steps to accelerate nuclear disarmament. The five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended without an agreed outcome from member states.

"This was a lost opportunity to increase the pressure on nations possessing nuclear weapons to get rid of these devastating weapons at a much faster pace," Marian Hobbs said. "We hoped that the meeting would have strengthened the Treaty. It is very unfortunate that this opportunity to sheet home New Zealand's message about the urgency it attaches to the elimination of nuclear weapons produced few tangible outcomes.

"I am pleased, however, that New Zealand was at the fore in all the negotiations that took place, both on disarmament and on major proliferation concerns. In the end, though, it was simply not possible to get unanimous agreement by the 150-odd countries represented at this conference." Marian Hobbs was the first speaker at the conference and she noted that there were upwards of 30,000 existing nuclear warheads today, almost as many as when the Treaty entered into force in 1970.

New Zealand and other countries from the New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden) were instrumental at the previous Review Conference in 2000 in negotiating steps agreed. They pushed very hard for additional measures this month and drew a great deal of support at the meeting.

However, concerns over the possible development of nuclear weapons especially by Iran and North Korea occupied centre stage at the Conference. Dealing with those concerns was complicated also by the problem of addressing the possession of nuclear weapons by countries outside the Treaty such as Israel, Pakistan and India, and by reports of possible research and development into new weapons by several of the major powers.

"This is not the first time that an NPT Review Conference has not produced an agreed outcome," Marian Hobbs said. "The Treaty's obligations are enduring and New Zealand will continue to make known at every opportunity the importance it attaches to the urgent reduction and elimination of these horrendous weapons."

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