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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012

67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee - Thematic debate: Nuclear Weapons

Statement by Ms Deborah Panckhurst, Head, Disarmament and Arms Control Unit - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 18 October 2012

Mr Chairman,
New Zealand is deeply committed to efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Our long‑standing and enduring commitment to nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation stems from our strong belief that nuclear weapons do not make the world a safer place. 

It remains our strong view that the only guarantee that nuclear weapons will not be used again is their complete and total elimination.  This was certainly the intent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and must remain our over-arching objective.  The agreement to extend the Treaty indefinitely in 1995 was not an agreement to the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons.

Mr Chairman,

New Zealand is pleased to work with the New Agenda Coalition (NAC) to promote greater progress on nuclear disarmament and we associate ourselves with the statement delivered earlier by Sweden on behalf of the NAC.  As noted by the Swedish Representative, the NAC’s draft resolution addresses a number of nuclear disarmament issues on which progress is essential for the achievement of a nuclear‑weapon-free world.

The 2010 NPT Review Conference outcome document provides a blueprint for action in this regard and holds the potential for real progress towards achieving our goal.  For this potential to be fully realised, however, all States, but particularly the nuclear‑weapon States, must implement in full all obligations and commitments made under the NPT, including at its Review Conferences.      

Mr Chairman,

New Zealand is also pleased to be associated with the statement delivered yesterday by Switzerland on behalf of the De-alerting Group.  It is of deep concern to New Zealand that large numbers of nuclear weapons remain today at high levels of readiness.  We urge the nuclear-weapon States to take action to lower the operational readiness of their nuclear weapons systems.  Not only would such action bring immediate security benefits but it would also result in a significant dividend through a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons in certain national security policies. 

The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) would also be an important step towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  We join others in welcoming recent ratifications and signatures of the Treaty, most notably by your own country, Indonesia, Mr Chairman, as an Annex 2 country.  We are pleased to join with Australia and Mexico in promoting a resolution on the CTBT that recognises the importance of the Treaty in our framework of efforts to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.  We continue to call on all States that have not yet done so, particularly the remaining Annex 2 States, to ratify the CTBT without any further delay.     
Mr Chairman,

New Zealand has long held that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing processes requiring urgent action on both fronts.  We continue to call on all States to take steps to meet their non-proliferation obligations.

Mr Chairman,

Nuclear-weapon-free zones are a powerful demonstration of the strong collective will that exists at a regional level to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear‑weapon‑free zones contribute strongly to both nuclear disarmament and non‑proliferation objectives.  In this connection, we welcome efforts to strengthen existing zones and to establish new zones in other regions.   

New Zealand commends the efforts of Under-Secretary Jaako Laajava as facilitator for the 2012 Conference on a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and looks forward to the convening of this Conference.    

New Zealand is pleased again this year to present a draft with Brazil of our biennial resolution entitled “Nuclear-weapon-free southern hemisphere and adjacent areas”.  The resolution has been adopted by an overwhelming majority in the past, with large numbers of co-sponsors, and we look forward to an even stronger outcome this year. 

Mr Chairman,

Nuclear weapons have no place in today’s world.  The 2010 NPT Review Conference recognised that the consequences of any use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic.  No State would be immune from their devastating impact.  We are pleased to associate ourselves with the joint statement to be delivered by Switzerland on this matter later in our debate. 

Given that the existence of nuclear weapons puts the lives and livelihoods of all of our peoples at stake and at risk, it is quite right that the issue of nuclear weapons is at the heart of the UN agenda, and has indeed been since its inception.  New Zealand calls for accelerated efforts towards the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world that would be safer for all.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT