As a co-founder of the NPDI, Australia is committed to this initiative to bring about the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. As a nation we were instrumental in pursuing a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests. We have campaigned to bring that treaty into effect and we are now focussed on efforts to cap the production of fissile material used to make nuclear weapons.
In the lead-up to the third and final Preparatory Committee of the 2015 Review Cycle we are in a critical phase, with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) losing momentum. Developments in Ukraine have also not helped our cause and a theory has developed, and been accepted in some quarters, that had Ukraine not given up its nuclear weapons, Russia would have been deterred from its violation of Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.
On the other hand, NPDI is well placed to contribute positively to a successful outcome both at the Preparatory Committee and the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
The strength of the NPDI comes from its cross-regional representation and balance, enhanced by new members Nigeria and Philippines. We must recognise that, particularly given this symbolic meeting at Hiroshima, the NPDI is gaining increasing influence. Increasingly, we have the ear of the P5, which see the NPDI as a useful sounding board. We are non-nuclear states, but collectively a potential powerful voice, reasonable and considered.
NPDI members may not agree on everything, but we are most effective when we focus on areas of commonality in promoting practical actions.
This applies equally to the humanitarian consequences narrative.
We all agree the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use would be catastrophic. That is an undeniable fact – the reality of which was brought home to us here in Hiroshima. And we can agree the NPDI needs to leverage discussions on this issue to bring greater pressure to bear on nuclear weapons states to do more on disarmament.
In the last month I have attended the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague as over 50 countries focussed on the unthinkable but not improbable prospect of non-state actors acquiring a nuclear weapon.
I spoke at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva where I called for action to be taken lest that Conference render itself irrelevant. A conference with an honourable heritage but which, through inaction, had fallen on hard times in failing to progress disarmament negotiations.
We should encourage our officials to continue discussions on how best to leverage and build on the NPDI’s work heading into the 2015 NPT Review Conference in May, 12 months hence, in New York.
After this meeting, and the forthcoming Preparatory Committee, we need to take stock of what actions the NPDI can take to secure a good outcome at the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
Looking past the 2015 NPT Review Conference, we also need to take some time to reflect on what will be the mandate of the NPDI during the next five-year review cycle.
My final point is to highlight that a key objective of this meeting should be to emphasise the unity of purpose among NPDI members.
Ultimately, we need to create an environment where all countries, including the nuclear-armed states, believe themselves to be more secure without nuclear weapons than with them.
Only when the nuclear armed states accept that as an objective fact, based not just on humanitarian but also security guarantees, will we be able to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.
Here in Hiroshima we can show the world we remain united in our determination to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
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