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Nuke Test Ban Treaty ‘Vital For Pacific’

Nuke Test Ban Treaty  ‘Vital For Pacific’
Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (PRUN) in New York, Ambassador Dr Satyendra Prasad, addressing the UN General Assembly.
September 09
12:33 2018

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (PRUN) says a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is vital for the Pacific.

Ambassador Satyendra Prasad says such a treaty is important if the Pacific is to protect its people from the deadly effects of nuclear testing.

Ambassador Prasad made the comments while delivering Fiji’s statement at the United Nations General Assembly during the observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

Ambassador Prasad said Fiji supported the call by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres who said, “every effort must be made to bring about the immediate entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”.

Mr Guterres addressed the Assembly after his return from a historic visit to Japan where he met survivors of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945.

“The legacy of more than 2000 nuclear tests has touched people and communities in many regions, from the residents of Semipalatinsk and the steppe of Kazakhstan, to South Pacific islanders and the Maralinga Tjarutja people of South Australia,” he said.

“They include some of the world’s most vulnerable communities in some of the most fragile areas of the planet, from the environmental point of view.

“The catastrophic impact of nuclear testing has had profound effects on the environment, human health, food security and economic development.”

In making Fiji’s voice heard at the high-level forum, Fiji’s Permanent Representative underscored that Fiji knew first-hand what it meant to be at the frontlines of nuclear testing as the country was still a colony between 1957 and 1958 when several hundred Fijian soldiers participated in a nuclear testing activity held in the Pacific.

“Almost all have passed away – most, in tragic health circumstances denied support and recognition from colonial authorities,” Ambassador Prasad said.

“We are not alone in this. Across the Pacific, whole communities were deliberately or indirectly exposed to nuclear testing – on land, on seas and in the air.

“Tests were carried out in fragile ocean environments and on seabed in earthquake zones.”

He made special reference to nuclear tests that took place in French Polynesia between 1966 and 1974.

Ambassador Prasad said the human and environmental impact of nuclear testing within the Pacific was not confined to the past, but instead was a persistent threat to the pursuit of sustainable development.

“Pacific peoples and our leaders have fought hard for an end to nuclear testing and for a nuclear-free world,” he said.

Fiji is party to the Treaty of Rarotonga (South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty) which formalizes a Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone in the South Pacific which came into force in 1986.

This treaty bans the use, testing and possession of nuclear weapons within the borders of the zone.

Similarly, Fiji was among the first countries to ratify the CTBT in 1996 while also a proud signatory of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

To date, eight countries have yet to sign the CTBT.

The TPNW frames nuclear weapons as an affront to humanity and thus the humanitarian, human rights and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons use and testing is the responsibility of humanity as a whole.

The treaty offers a crucial new international framework for addressing the devastating legacy of nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Fiji urged the UN system to use the opportunities created by the TPNW to assess health, human rights and the environmental impacts of nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific and develop action plans to address these.

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