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I have waited a lifetime for someone to take responsibility for deliberately exposing my late father and other sailors to the testing of a nuclear bomb

I have waited a lifetime for someone to take responsibility for deliberately exposing my late father and other sailors to the testing of a nuclear bomb – PM

The threat posed by nuclear weapons continues and this has been made all too clear by recent events, and we unequivocally condemn Russia’s thinly-veiled threats to use nuclear weapons.

This was the strong message by Fijian Prime Minister and Chairman of Pacific Islands Forum, Voreqe Bainimarama while making a joint statement by the Parties to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and the Pacific Islands Forum to the 10th Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons at the UN General Assembly in New York.

Bainimarama says they are in the meeting to urge the nuclear states to put forward comprehensive and transparent reports on their disarmament efforts that must be designed to point away from any new technology that would make these weapons more effective, more efficient, more powerful, or easier for more parties to acquire.

He says our commitment to a Pacific that is free of nuclear weapons is defining for our region.

Bainimarama says this is a commitment that he has also made as a Prime Minister but it is also personal — a commitment that he has made as a son because he has waited a lifetime for someone to take responsibility for deliberately exposing his late father, Ratu Inoke Bainimarama, and the sailors he commanded, to test a nuclear bomb.

Bainimarama says the slow pace of disarmament is of deep concern to our Pacific community.

He says they are particularly concerned by increases in nuclear weapons stockpiles, modernization programmes, the development of new types of weapons, and reductions in transparency.

The Prime Minister says they strongly call on all nuclear weapon States to implement their nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the NPT and honor the commitments they have made, including those emanating from the NPT Review Conferences.

He says for us, the ongoing struggle with the legacy of nuclear testing, from trans-boundary contamination of homes and habitats to higher numbers of birth defects and cancers, gives rise to an acute awareness in the Pacific region of the threats posed by nuclear testing. and dumping.

Bainimarama says this is why the Treaty of Rarotonga was the first nuclear weapons free zone treaty to include a dumping provision for radioactive waste and radioactive matter, a provision that was later emulated in the Bangkok Treaty.

He says it reflects our collective responsibility for, and shared stewardship of, our Blue Pacific. The Prime Minister says they reaffirm our determination for a region free of environmental pollution by radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter.

Bainimarama says for the Treaty of Rarotonga, they welcomed the announcement by the United States in 2010 of its intention to ratify all Protocols to the Treaty. He says they call on the United States to now take the necessary steps toward ratification so that the Treaty can have its full effect.

The Prime Minister says generations of Pacific Islanders have waited in vain for an apology; for health support; for reassurances that there will be no repeat of testing, for reassurances that there will be no waste disposal; and for reaffirmations that nuclear weapons will never be deployed in the Blue Pacific again.

Bainimarama says mothers of deformed babies in the Marshall Islands, have waited, families in French Polynesia who have lost loved ones too soon, have waited and we are still waiting.

He says we look to this 10th review for greater commitment by all countries to show us that they are taking actions to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

Bainimarama says so long as the nuclear powers maintain these arsenals, no one can sleep soundly.

He says that is because any person anywhere on the planet can potentially experience the same suffering the people of the Pacific have known—and still know.

The Prime Minister says mutually assured destruction is no assurance of peace.

He says ask the people of Ukraine, ask the people of Syria and ask every victim of conflict anywhere in the world about the false peace these weapons promise.

Bainimarama says yes, we have seen no mushroom clouds, but we have seen relentless destruction and devastation—cities like Aleppo and Mariupol leveled to the ground.

He also says ask Fiji’s peacekeepers who serve in conflict areas around the world what true peace really entails.

The Prime Minister says it is not forged at the end of a rifle or within the sights of a missile – it comes from understanding, it comes from equality, and it comes from opportunity.

He says we know these weapons won’t disappear overnight, and we also recognize the beneficial peaceful uses of the atom—for energy and medicine, for example, but it is common sense to recognize the complete and senseless waste that existing nuclear arsenals represent.

Bainimarama says they also welcome initiatives by the Non Aligned Movement as well as the proposals advanced by Canada, Nigeria and others.

He says no nation can pick and choose when it cares about human life and when it advances multi-lateralism, and they cannot leave the meeting without a final document.

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