Fiji PM Bainimarama calls for serious action on nuclear disarmament


Fijian Prime Minister and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Voreqe Bainimarama today called on nuclear states to implement their disarmament obligations and to join the wave of support toward creating a nuclear-free world.

Prime Minister Bainimarama urged states with nuclear weapons to put forward comprehensive and transparent reports on their disarmament efforts and it must be designed to point away from any new technology that would make these weapons more effective, efficient, powerful, or easier for more parties to acquire.

He conveyed these remarks whilst delivering a joint statement of Parties to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and the Pacific Islands Forum to the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the UN General Assembly in New York.

“Our commitment to a Pacific that is free of nuclear weapons is defining for our region. This is a commitment that I have also made as a Prime Minister but it is also a personal commitment that I have made as a son as I have waited a lifetime for someone to take responsibility for deliberately exposing my late father, Ratu Inoke Bainimarama, and the sailors he commanded, to the testing of a nuclear bomb,” he said.

“We are deeply concerned by increases in nuclear weapons stockpiles, modernisation programmes, the development of new types of weapons, and reductions in transparency.”

“We strongly call on all nuclear-weapon States to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT and honour the commitments they have made, including those emanating from the NPT Review Conferences,” he added.

The Head of the Fijian Government also took to the international stage to highlight the significance of the Rarotonga Treaty.

“Our Treaty of Rarotonga includes a specific provision requiring parties to support the continued effectiveness of the international non-proliferation system based on the NPT and the IAEA safeguards system,” Prime Minister Bainimarama said.

“In including this provision, we recognised the interplay between the three pillars of the NPT and the importance of each of them. Our commitment to them stands today.”

“We see the Treaty of Rarotonga as a living document and a symbol of our region’s long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons.”

“We stand together ready to support your efforts at this Review Conference, in support of a credible, ambitious outcome, that reflects the ongoing importance of the NPT to the peace and security of our region and the world.”

United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres shared similar sentiments, calling on nations to put humanity on a new path toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

He said that humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.

“This is a chance to strengthen the treaty and make it fit for the worrying world around us. Eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee they will never be used.”

In his capacity as the Fijian Prime Minister, PM Bainimarama said that as long as the nuclear powers maintain these arsenals, no one can sleep soundly.

“Generations of Pacific Islanders have waited in vain for an apology; for health support; for reassurances that there will be no repeat of testing, for reassurances that there will be no waste disposal; and for reaffirmations that nuclear weapons will never be deployed in the Blue Pacific again.

“Mothers of deformed babies in the Marshall Islands, have waited. Families in French Polynesia who have lost loved ones too soon, have waited. We are still waiting,” said Bainimarama.

“We know these weapons won’t disappear overnight and we also recognise the beneficial peaceful uses of the atom—for energy and medicine, for example. But it is common sense to recognise the complete and senseless waste that existing nuclear arsenals represent.”

“We cannot leave here without a final document. It is our shared responsibility as Leaders to make this conference count for the peace-loving people we represent.2

“Ask the people of Ukraine. Ask the people of Syria. Ask every victim of conflict anywhere in the world about the false peace these weapons promise. Yes, we have seen no mushroom clouds, but we have seen relentless destruction and devastation—cities like Aleppo and Mariupol levelled to the ground.

“Ask the victims of climate-driven disasters about the resources we waste on these weapons; the Public funds, the ingenuity, and the human capital that could and should be spent improving and protecting lives. Responsible use of nuclear energy could be part of the solution.

“And ask Fiji’s peacekeepers who serve in conflict areas around the world what true peace really entails. It is not forged at the end of a rifle or within the sights of a missile –– it comes from understanding, it comes from equality, and it comes from opportunity,” Bainimarama told the conference.

The Prime Minister, in his address, represented Australia, Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Fiji.

The NPT is a landmark international treaty to prevent the increase of nuclear weapons and promote cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.