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Phil Goff: Nagasaki Global Citizens Assembly

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control

21 Oct 2006

Speech Notes

Address to the Nagasaki Global Citizens Assembly
for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.
Nagasaki Brick Hall, Nagasaki, Japan.

Mina sa ma Konnichiwa

I am very pleased to join you in Nagasaki for the Global Citizens Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima are the only two cities to have experienced the horrors of nuclear weapons.

The atomic bombings of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945, and Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, changed our world.

In New Zealand people of my generation grew up in the shadow of those events, and the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. For the first time in history, the capacity existed to destroy humanity.

This situation, and the testing of nuclear weapons in our region by states which possessed them, led to New Zealand taking a strong stand for our country becoming nuclear free.

Next year, New Zealand will mark the 20th anniversary of the legislation which brought into effect our nuclear free status.

The Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act bans the entry of all nuclear weapons and nuclear powered ships, and implements the Treaty of Rarotonga. The legislation continues to enjoy strong public support in New Zealand.

New Zealand also committed itself to working internationally and regionally to ensure that the holocaust suffered by Nagasaki and Hiroshima are never visited upon other cities and communities.

I was honoured earlier today to present the people of Nagasaki with a sculpture for the Nagasaki Peace Park - “Te Korowai Rangimarie – The Cloak of Peace”.

The Cloak is a gift of friendship and peace from the people and government of New Zealand to the people of Nagasaki.

It expresses our deep sympathy for those who died, and for those that continue to suffer as a result of the bombing - and indeed for all those who have died as a consequence of war.

The cloak also represents the unity of those committed to a peaceful world, a goal that the people of Japan and New Zealand share.

New Zealand and Japan were amongst the strongest voices in the international community when the UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice to consider whether nuclear weapons were illegal in 1994. This built on New Zealand’s 1973 case to ICJ, which sought an end to the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons.

In 1996, the Court made its historical ruling: that the threat or use of nuclear weapons was generally illegal. It went on to say that an obligation exists: “to pursue in good faith and to bring to a conclusion, negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control”.

This objective is all the more important today, against the backdrop of recent events in North Korea. The actions of the DPRK in conducting a nuclear weapon test represent a very real threat to the security of our Asia Pacific region.

New Zealand has joined Japan and other members of the international community in unequivocally condemning Pyongyang’s actions, which are provocative and irresponsible. The path to security and progress does not lie through the possession of nuclear weapons.

Nor should any country be rewarded for that action.

The Security Council’s recent strong response to North Korea’s provocative actions, through its unanimous adoption of Security Council Resolution 1718 – and the implementation of targeted sanctions - sent a clear message about the international community's concern.

New Zealand will quickly implement the prescribed sanctions of Resolution 1718, and other measures.

This matter has to be dealt with strongly. But we acknowledge that resolving the current crisis in a manner that ensures the maintenance of regional peace and security must be through negotiation.

We have called on Pyongyang to implement the agreements it has previously entered into. We fully support the United Nations Security Council’s call to North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks - without preconditions. The talks are a crucial component in finding a resolution and we encourage all members to re-commit to this process.

North Korea’s missile and nuclear bomb testing combined with the unpredictability of its regime – and the likely inadequacy of its safeguards – pose a threat to the security of us all, but primarily in this region.

We welcome Japan’s level-headed approach, emphasising peaceful and diplomatic efforts to respond to North Korea’s provocation.

We warmly endorse Prime Minister Abe's early and clear statements that Japan will not counter North Korea's recent actions with its own nuclear weapons programme.

North Korea’s nuclear test could threaten a new nuclear arms race if its actions were to provoke other countries to acquire and retain nuclear weapons.

I share with George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace the view that “now is the time for far-sighted, collaborative, and smart policies to prevent the further spread and use of nuclear weapons”.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty established clear obligations for disarmament and non-proliferation, which were reaffirmed by all NPT states in 2000.

The NPT is the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament efforts. It is the only multilateral treaty commitment to nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapon states.

Support for the NPT and its fundamental principles must remain a key priority for the international community.

The emphasis must be both on non-proliferation, and on movement towards nuclear disarmament. They are mutually reinforcing processes. Both are part of the fundamental NPT bargain.

New Zealand is actively involved in working toward each of these objectives.

We contribute to the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.

We are an active participant in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative.

There is much that nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states alike can do to contribute to confidence building on nuclear disarmament.

Recent events notwithstanding, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has created an international norm against testing, and guards against future development of nuclear weapons. It is imperative that it comes into force.

New Zealand, as a strong supporter of multilateralism, puts emphasis on what can be achieved at the United Nations.

We were disappointed that the high level summit in 2005 did not contain any reference to disarmament. Those who stood in the way of progress in this area must reflect on the consequences of their actions.

The next opportunity to progress the nuclear disarmament agenda is the first Preparatory Committee of the NPT scheduled for April/May 2007. It is important that this next review cycle gets the nuclear disarmament agenda back on track, given the lack of outcomes from the last NPT Review Conference in May 2005.

Nuclear weapon free zones act as a powerful symbol for demonstrating the renunciation of weapons of mass destruction to the international community. This is particularly the case at a regional level.

New Zealand is part of the South Pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and we are strong supporters of a Southern Hemisphere Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.

Civil society has a key role to play in encouraging governments to move forward the disarmament agenda.

The work that you do builds support and momentum for nuclear disarmament initiatives, and it can prompt governments to act.

The New Zealand Government supports the efforts of civil society in the disarmament arena. We fund NGO and civil society initiatives on disarmament.

We see disarmament education as a key need. Raising awareness amongst the public - particularly young people - of the threat of nuclear weapons is essential.

To be ignorant of what happened here increases the risk that countries will again contemplate the use of nuclear weapons, now many times more powerful that those which devastated these cities.

More than 61 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, North Korea has reminded us that the spectre of nuclear annihilation has not receded into the darkness.

The international community must not become complacent about the threat nuclear weapons pose to humanity. The Nagasaki and Hiroshima peace parks are a poignant reminder of the horrific human suffering that nuclear weapons can cause.

New Zealand will continue to work constructively for a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons. I know that you share our commitment, and I thank you for your continued dedication.

Doomo Arigato Gozaimasu.


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