Fiji PM condemns Russia’s threats to use nuclear weapons

Fiji PM Voreqe Bainimarama shares a chat with US vice-president Kamala Harris. Picture: FIJI GOVT

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, on behalf of Pacific Island leaders, condemned Russia’s thinly-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons in a strongly-worded statement at the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in New York on Monday.

He said it was 36 years since the entry into force of the South Pacific’s Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

“It was a proud moment, but one that was borne out of the devastation of decades of nuclear testing and growing concerns about burgeoning nuclear weapons stockpiles,” the PM said.

“This has been made all too clear by recent events, and we condemn unequivocally Russia’s thinly-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons.”

He also said the slow pace of disarmament was “of deep concern to our Pacific community”.

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

He said the disarmament obligation contained in Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remained vital and called on all nuclear weapon states to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI and honour the commitments they have made.

“For us, the ongoing struggle with the legacy of nuclear testing, from trans-boundary contamination of homes and habitats to higher numbers of birth defects and cancers, gives rise to an acute awareness in the Pacific region of the threats posed by nuclear testing and dumping.

“This is why the treaty of Rarotonga was the first nuclear weapons free zone treaty to include a dumping provision for radioactive waste and radioactive matter, a provision that was later emulated in the Bangkok Treaty.

“It reflects our collective responsibility for, and shared stewardship of our Blue Pacific. We hereby reaffirm our determination for a region free of environmental pollution by radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter.”

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