Speech at 10th meeting of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty

Prime Minister

Kia Ora.

It is a pleasure to join you here today at this 10th meeting of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty. This gathering provides an important opportunity to reiterate our unwavering commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons, for which the entry into force of this treaty would be a much-needed boost.

As a firm opponent of nuclear weapons, including nuclear weapons testing, Aotearoa New Zealand has been a steadfast supporter of the CTBT since it was first proposed. The Treaty’s adoption in 1996 was a clear statement of our shared determination to end nuclear testing, and was a critical factor in the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the threat posed by nuclear weapons continue to rise, and the international community is divided over a choice between disarmament or a new nuclear arms race, both treaties require our urgent care and attention.

An overwhelming majority of the world’s countries – 174 in fact – have already signed and ratified the CTBT, sending a clear message that nuclear testing is unacceptable and must remain consigned to the past. Lying behind this unity is our acknowledgement of the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and our firm conviction that they must never be used or tested again.

A formative experience for New Zealand was witnessing the devastating impacts of nuclear testing in the Pacific, the legacy of which is still being felt by Pacific peoples. The tests dislocated communities and forced people from their lands and traditional ways, causing immense and inter-generational harm to human health and the environment. Addressing the legacy of historic nuclear testing must be pursued alongside efforts to ensure no one else has to endure it in future.

New Zealand is proud to support the CTBT and I acknowledge the particular dedication it has taken among member states and the Provisional Technical Secretariat to continue to progress implementation of the Treaty over the past quarter century. The status of the Treaty’s International Monitoring System is testament to our collective determination to bring the Treaty’s aims to fruition, and has yielded many benefits for the international community, including with respect to tsunami warning.

It also allows us to determine whether the global norm against nuclear testing has been violated, something that only North Korea has done since 2006. I urge North Korea to refrain from conducting any further tests, and to heed long-standing international calls to return to diplomacy.

While I am pleased to celebrate the Treaty’s successes, we must not gloss over the fact that it has not yet delivered us the disarmament benefits promised all those years ago.

The Treaty’s entry into force cannot be achieved until eight specific countries have ratified it. I therefore take this opportunity to urge India, North Korea and Pakistan to sign and ratify the Treaty, and China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States to ratify it. 

Thank you.