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Call for nuclear-free treaty

More Pacific nations are being urged to become a party to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

So far only seven of the Pacific Islands Forum members have, with Fiji becoming the seventh nation after Palau, New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Vanuatu, and Kiribati.

Nations are meeting for the first time under the United Nations in Vienna, Austria. The subject may be nuclear but the spotlight seems to be on the worsening conflict in Ukraine.

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Pacific has always been important to the world

The Pacific has had a long history with nuclear weapons including the hundreds of tests in Micronesian states and in French Polynesia.

Between 1946 and 1958, the United States carried out 67 nuclear weapons tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

86 countries are parties to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. More Pacific nations are being urged to become a party to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Picture: Fijian Government

The atolls were some of the main sites included in the Pacific Proving Grounds, the name given to the test sites.

The test site at Mururoa in Tahiti was dismantled following France’s last nuclear test to date, which took place on January 27, 1996 on Fangataufa.

In total, 181 explosions took place at Moruroa, 41 of which were atmospheric.

A strong message was sent by the United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres at the opening of the First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

In simple words, he said nuclear weapons are a global scourge.

“A deadly reminder of countries’ inability to solve problems through dialogue and collaboration. These weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence — while guaranteeing only destruction, death, and endless brinksmanship,” he said.

“Today, the terrifying lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are fading from memory. The once unthinkable prospect of nuclear conflict is now back within the realm of possibility.

“More than 13,000 nuclear weapons are being held in arsenals across the globe. In a world rife with geopolitical tensions and mistrust, this is a recipe for annihilation. We cannot allow the nuclear weapons wielded by a handful of States to jeopardize all life on our planet.”

Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the First Meeting of the State Parties Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Fiji became the latest Pacific Island nation to become a state party to the treaty. Picture: Fijian Government

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is seen as an important step towards the common aspiration of a world without nuclear weapons.

Fiji became the latest Pacific Island nation to become a state party to the treaty. While addressing the meeting Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said this is the first step back from the knife’s edge of Armageddon.

“It is not idealism that convinced us, it is level-headed common sense that caused Fiji to do away with this means of species extinction. Neither are we on the fringe of the debate. We are a coalition united by a shared value for human life. I welcome the NATO members who have joined us. This solution depends on your action and contribution,” he said.

He said nuclear weapons are worsening the pandemic and the staggering expense cripples the response to other challenges.

“The injustice of the nuclear tests inflicted on the Pacific intensifies with every dollar spent on missiles instead of seawalls, resilient crops, relocations, and renewables.

“It’s time we do away with these trillion-dollar relics and get serious about securing out future.”

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