Amid a perceived nuclear threat, among other things, months after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern cautions that our world is at greater risk of nuclear catastrophe than at any time since the height of the cold war. She however reassures that the world can still step back from the abyss.
In an Opinion column on Nuclear weapons in The Guardian, against the backdrop of the ongoing review conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, she said "New Zealand is calling on the nuclear weapons states – the US, Russia, China, France and the UK – to step back from the nuclear abyss, and provide that leadership by committing to negotiate a new multilateral nuclear disarmament framework."
The lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where 355,000 people were killed, and of testing in the Pacific, are reminder enough that there is never justification for the deployment of nuclear weapons, she argued.
She felt that the nuclear non-proliferation treaty has "played an important role in lowering the risk of these weapons abolishing us."
"Currently 191 countries are meeting at the United Nations to renew the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and negotiations are going down to the wire. These talks offer a chance to breathe new life into nuclear disarmament at a time when the world needs that more than ever."
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"There is a lot at stake in New York this week. Some might say that in the current global environment a new nuclear arms race is inevitable, and with it a further undermining of our nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. But I cannot accept a logic that suggests insecurity and instability render us incapable of doing the very thing that would help make the world less insecure and less unstable – an idea that the history of the treaty itself shows is false."
"There can and should be a different trajectory – one of urgent leadership, of recognition of the nuclear precipice on which we are all standing, and of continued progress in our efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It’s not only possible – it’s necessary," she noted.
According to the UN, "The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote co-operation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The NPT represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States.
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Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. Since its entry into force, the NPT has been the cornerstone of global nuclear non-proliferation regime. 191 States parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States, making the NPT the most widely adhered to multilateral disarmament agreement.
The Treaty, particularly article VIII, paragraph 3, envisages a review of the operation of the Treaty every five years, a provision which was reaffirmed by the States parties at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the 2000 NPT Review Conference."