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Action needed on decades old arms promise

Nuclear weapons states must honour the unequivocal promise they made 45 years ago to disarm, says Labour’s Disarmament Spokesperson Phil Goff.

Mr Goff is attending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York.

“The bargain struck in 1970 was for non-weapons states not to develop nuclear weapons.  In return the five nuclear weapons countries agreed to disarm.  After years of promising to do so, they have still not honoured that promise.

“Failure to make progress towards disarmament puts the sustainability and credibility of the Treaty at risk.

“In his message to the Conference Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, was blunt in his warning that progress towards nuclear disarmament has stalled. Nuclear weapon states are moving in the opposite direction.

“He said a dangerous return to Cold War instabilities and expensive modernisation of nuclear weapons ‘will entrench nuclear weapons for decades to come’.

“In the last year alone nuclear weapon states spent $100 billion on nuclear weapons and entrenched them in their security doctrines. Whatever their words, these actions contradict their supposed commitment to disarmament.

“The patience of non-weapon states is wearing thin. If despite our best efforts to make this conference a success, no progress is made, countries like New Zealand will be forced to look to alternative paths to disarmament.

“Other countries, however, may determine that in a world where possession of nuclear weapons gives leverage, they should abandon their non-proliferation commitments.

“That would be disastrous when 17,000 nuclear warheads already threaten human survival.

 “The more weapons, the greater the chance of use, whether deliberately, by mistake or miscalculation, or through weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

“It is critical that nuclear weapon states now turn their words into actions. This conference provides the opportunity for them to head off the threat of nuclear weapons possession becoming more widespread and their use more likely,” Phil Goff said.