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New Zealand Minister Hobbs Calls for Global Nuclear Disarmament, Thanks MPI
MPI Event Report
United Nations, New York
By Dr. Urs Cipolat
April 27, 2004

On Monday, April 26, the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), led by Senator Douglas Roche from Canada, held a Forum on "Ensuring Full Implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty." The public event, attended by 30 government and 40 NGO representatives, was chaired by Dr. Randy Rydell, Senior Political Affairs Officer in the Office of the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations.

Keynote speaker Marian Hobbs, New Zealand's Minister for Disarmament, underscored the centrality of nuclear disarmament in the effort to stem nuclear proliferation. "The possession of nuclear weapons by any state is a constant stimulus to other states to acquire them," Minister Hobbs stressed. "Proliferation of nuclear weapons will only cease when the weapons themselves cease to exist."

Cooperation between officials and non-governmental organizations such as MPI is crucial to amplify this central disarmament message, Minister Hobbs stressed in her conclusion, while thanking MPI for its effective global advocacy. "Your tireless lobbying at all levels of government and in legislatures helps to disabuse the public of the notion that nuclear disarmament has somehow lost its importance in the wake of proliferation concerns and builds vital constituency support within key governments."

Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat from Indonesia, Chair of the Third Preparatory Committee Meeting for the NPT Review Conference next year, encouraged countries to pay attention to MPI's work . "MPI provides viable, practical, realistic proposals regarding nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, through 2005 and beyond," he pointed out in his opening remarks to the Forum. "It thus warrants serious consideration by all NPT States parties."

Speaking on behalf of Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Tariq Rauf highlighted eight priorities to strengthen the NPT regime. They include, inter alia, tightened universal export controls, stronger political and financial support for the IAEA, negotiations of a fissile material treaty, and greater disarmament and non-proliferation education efforts. Rauf, currently Head of the IAEA's Verification and Security Policy Office, concluded his intervention with an appeal to end the existing nuclear double standard: "We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security."

Canada's Disarmament Ambassador Paul Meyer reminded audience that his country's ultimate goal remains the total elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide. To achieve this goal, Meyer recommended that NPT States parties and civil society organizations help promote three Canadian initiatives at the forthcoming NPT Review Conference, namely the submission of regular annual NPT reports, the establishment of a standing NPT bureau that would be organizing annual NPT implementation meetings, and heightened NGO participation in the NPT Review process. "The adoption of these measures at the Review Conference would go a long way to reinforcing the Treaty's authority and vitality in the face of serious challenges," Meyer argued.

A final set of recommendations was presented by Ambassador Henrik Salander, Secretary-General of the new independent Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. After emphasizing the key challenges to the NPT regime - among them the continued possession by eight countries of usable nuclear weapons, recent breakouts by some non-nuclear weapon States, and the adoption of new doctrines considering the actual use of nuclear weapons - Salander called upon participants to help strengthen existing and emerging normative standards. "I suggest that we all strive to adjust our thinking ... to the following two notions," the Swedish diplomat said. "One - democratic states can never use nuclear weapons first. And two - nuclear weapons are unusable weapons."

In his concluding remarks, Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute, stressed the human right to live in a world without nuclear weapons. "At the end of the day, the elimination of nuclear weapons is what we are supposed to achieve. The NPT, if fully implemented, can help us attain this goal."

Related items:
Photo Gallery
Remarks by Hon. Marian Hobbs, New Zealand
Remarks by Amb. Paul Meyer, Canada
Remarks by Dr. Tariq Rauf, IAEA
Remarks by Amb. Henrik Salander, Blix Commission