A Pacific Islands Forum statement released to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons has criticised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, noting the nuclear threats being made by President Putin and his government are ‘unacceptable’ the statement on the Forum website, has no speaker as it was submitted in writing.
The only other Pacific statement on the UN website was that of Kiribati President Taneti Maamau, who gave the first of a handful of national statements at the UN commemoration plenary in New York today.
The high level session took place alongside the final day of plenary UNGA77 statements, as the Leaders wound down to a close for the host city. The Forum statement noted that “nuclear weapons continue to threaten and overshadow the peace and security of our globe. Seventy-six years on, we are still calling for the elimination of “atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction”.
“This year, 2022, began with much promise when we received in January the Joint Statement by the Leaders of the Five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Race. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine took place only days later with unacceptable nuclear threats being made by President Putin and his Government. Further, nine States still possess between them approximately 13,000 nuclear weapons, many of which are on high operational alert– we therefore are disappointed that the quinquennial 10th Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (‘NPT’) did not deliver agreed outcomes,” the PIF said, “However, we continue to uphold, and preserve confidence in, the NPT regime in our pursuit towards full disarmament, non-proliferation, and the total elimination of nuclear weapons. We note the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and the Vienna Action Plan resulting from the first Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”
The PIF also welcomed activities marking the 25th Anniversary of the Opening for Signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, including Tuvalu’s ratification of the Treaty, “and remain in high anticipation of its entry into force in the not-too-distant future.”
“The South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty (the ‘Treaty of Rarotonga’), is our proud contribution to non-proliferation and elimination of nuclear weapons. Under the auspices of the NPT, the Treaty of Rarotonga established legally binding commitments on its States Parties not to manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over any nuclear explosive device by any means anywhere inside or outside the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone..”
“Our 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific Continent depends on a safe and peaceful world. It is in this spirit of peace and harmony that the founding Fathers of the Pacific Islands Forum and the framers of the Treaty of Rarotonga were convinced that all countries have an obligation to make every effort to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons”.
The statement said the Pacific’s nuclear testing legacy “clearly teaches us that we must take all precautions when it comes to nuclear safety. This is even more critical today where the risks of nuclear accidents will heighten with more frequent disasters and the climate crisis.
“At their 51st Annual Meeting this year, Forum Leaders reiterated their strong concerns for the significance of the potential threat of nuclear contamination to the health and security of the Blue Pacific, its people and prosperity. We emphasise the critical need to re-look at nuclear safety in the context of climate change and disasters, particularly their impacts on small island nations, and we invite the international community to join us in pursuing the highest standards of nuclear safety through international consultation, international law, and independent and verifiable scientific assessments, including in relation to plans to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.”
The statement referred to the transboundary nature of nuclear and environmental waste, and in ending said, “This is what total nuclear elimination means to the Blue Pacific. As a nuclear-free zone, we strongly emphasise disarmament, non-proliferation, as well as the absolute need for accelerated actions and standards towards nuclear safety.” .