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NZ in good position to get progress against nukes - Goff

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Phil Goff
Phil Goff

Wellington, April 8 NZPA - New Zealand can show leadership in promoting nuclear disarmament, Labour leader Phil Goff says as Prime Minister John Key prepares to attend a high-powered nuclear security summit in Washington next week.

Mr Goff said United States President Barack Obama's commitment to a nuclear weapon free world opened the door for progress to be made after former President George Bush opposed multi-lateral efforts to promote disarmament and saw first strike capability, missile defence and the use of tactical nuclear weapons as core defence policy.

"In an environment where nuclear disarmament talks stagnated, New Zealand was still able to play an important and leading role in disarmament," Mr Goff, a former foreign affairs minister, said.

"We won support at the United Nations from 130 countries in promoting the de-alerting of missiles to lessen the risk of mistaken launching of nuclear weapons. As one of six countries involved in the Oslo Process, we achieved a convention to ban the use of cluster munitions."

Mr Goff urged Mr Key to use the summit and the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May to push for implementation of the 13 steps towards disarmament agreed to at the 2000 Review Conference, but blocked at the 2005 conference.

"We should also be at the forefront of promoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon's call for a convention to abolish nuclear weapons globally," Mr Goff said.

Mr Key yesterday said New Zealand had "clean hands" on nuclear issues and could be an honest broker at the summit.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is among 46 world leaders who will attend the Washington summit, which will focus on securing nuclear material to prevent it falling into the wrong hands.

Mr Key said New Zealand was in the unique position of being the only country at the meeting with no nuclear weapons, nuclear power or materials.

"I think we can be the honest broker and we can have a legitimate and passionate voice in this area.

"We've proven that we are a country that doesn't want nuclear power, we don't want nuclear weapons and we don't play a role in nuclear resources of any great magnitude," he said.

Mr Key left for the US today and will spend a few days on holiday there before the two-day summit on April 12 and 13.

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