70th Anniversary of Hiroshima - Time to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

70th Anniversary of Hiroshima - Time to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Media Release:  31 July 2015

The New Zealand Peace Foundation has written to Members of Parliament to ask what the government is doing on the occasion of the upcoming 70th anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to prevent nuclear weapons from ever being used again. It has called on the government to take this opportunity to lead UN efforts to progress nuclear disarmament negotiations and to outlaw these weapons of mass destruction.

Despite the existence of global treaties prohibiting the use, production and stockpiling chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, no comparable treaty exists for nuclear weapons. These remain the only WMD not yet comprehensively outlawed.
 
The Peace Foundation has strongly recommended to MPs that the government co-sponsor a resolution at the UN General Assembly to re-establish the Open Ended Working Group, which is our best chance at opening the door to effective negotiations on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The OEWG has widespread support by most nations at the UN, as demonstrated most recently at the May 2015 NPT Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in New York.
 
The Foundation also recommends that the government endorse the Humanitarian Pledge. In the absence of an NPT agreement at the UN, the Pledge provides the most effective platform to pursue a nuclear disarmament agreement. The humanitarian approach embodied by the Pledge focuses on the millions of deaths and unbearable suffering that would result from any use of the 16,000 nuclear weapons currently held by nine nuclear states – and the need to legally ban and dismantle them.
 
At the NPT, over 107 nations endorsed the pledge to “take effective measures to close the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “co-operate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal.” The Pledge provides the platform for potential negotiation of a ban treaty similar to what has been done for other WMD in the past.
 
On 5th August, the eve of the August Hiroshima anniversary, Asia Pacific Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Tim Wright will be speaking at Auckland University on how Nuclear Free New Zealand can support the next stage of the process for nuclear disarmament (more information atlawevents@auckland.ac.nz). His one-week visit to New Zealand will also include speaking engagements in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.
 
New Zealand established a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in 1984 and is a recognised global leader in the field of nuclear disarmament. We have also been a significant player in groundwork to consolidate the commitment of non-nuclear states to ban nuclear weapons over the last couple of years, which has culminated in the Humanitarian Pledge. To prevent future Hiroshimas the New Zealand Government should endorse the Pledge now.
 
For further information please contact:
Dr Roderic Alley
Spokesperson on International Affairs and Disarmament
The Peace Foundation
Mobile:   021 263 3481
Email:  roderic.alley@vuw.ac.nz