General Statement for the 10th Review Conference of The States Parties to The Treaty on The Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Teburoro Tito, Permanent Representative of Kiribati

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August 4, 2022

Mr. President,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I wish to congratulate H.E. Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina on his assumption as President of the Tenth NPT Review Conference. I further wish to begin by stating that Kiribati aligns itself with the PSIDS Statement.

We are gathered here today for this historic conference in which we review and take stock of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which remains a cornerstone of the international security architecture. Kiribati fully supports the three pillars of the NPT.

Kiribati is concerned about the lack of progress under Article VI of the NPT. Article which requires each party to to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament and the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Contrary to Article VI of NPT, the NWS are continuously modernizing and expanding their nuclear arsenals. We are further troubled by  recent developments in Europe with respect to the Ukraine War  which could lead to nuclear confrontation.

We call upon the NWS to commit to a world free of nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon States and those that rely on nuclear weapons in their security postures must urgently take all necessary nuclear risk reduction measures, including measures to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their military doctrines, urgent steps to remove nuclear weapons from high operational alert, and to implement effectively all other relevant commitments contained under the 2010 Action Plan.

We also wish to remind all states parties that the final outcome document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference contains a strong reference to the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. The conference also reaffirmed “the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

Mr. President,

Despite the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament from a small group of states, many non-nuclear weapon states have taken concrete action by ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Kiribati is pleased to be one of them and to have participated actively in the First Meeting of States Parties to the TPNW held in Vienna recently. We firmly believe that the TPNW complements the NPT by filling the missing legal gap in the NPT and expands the existing international security architecture by addressing victim assistance, environmental remediation, international cooperation, and assistance.

President and Distinguished Excellencies,

Between 1957 and 1962, our two great friends, the United Kingdom and the United States conducted 33 thermonuclear tests in Kiribati. The 500 citizens of Kiribati living on Kiritimati at the time of the tests received little protection and inadequate warning. Not being aware of the dangers of such tests, most of them lifted the tarpaulin cover provided for them to catch a glimpse of the spectacular display of the intensely hot cloud of fire above them. Many of these people complained about all sorts of untreatable illnesses and health complications, most of which resulted in death. There were numerous cases of cancer, congenital disabilities, and abnormalities with newborn babies. Cases of these kinds persist with the descendants of those on the island when the tests were carried out. Therefore, we call on all states parties to support the inclusion of victim assistance and environmental remediation in this conference’s outcome document.

President and Distinguished Excellencies,

The Kiribati people thriving in an ecological environment comprising 99.99% water and 0.01%l and, sometimes referred to as the super-amphibians of the Pacific, greatly rely on resources from the great Blue Pacific. The tranquility of the Pacific Ocean is linked to our identity as gentle, peaceful, respectful and loving people, all of which define the DNA of all Pacific peoples. We are therefore fully committed to ensuring that the health and wealth of the Blue Pacific is protected against nuclear and other forms of contamination harmful to human health.

In addition, we are worried about the potential impact of a number of trilateral and quadrilateral security arrangements in the Pacific especially if they are carried out without the involvement of the Governments and peoples of the Pacific. t the trilateral security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, thus leaving us out of such arrangements and not providing opportunities to be part of and have a say in such arrangements.

President and Distinguished Excellencies,

Kiribati stands ready to fully engage with you and the other states parties in order to ensure a successful review conference for the good of all states and peoples of the world.  To this end, we firmly believe that the most effective way forward is to begin to plant and replant, cultivate and re-cultivate  the beautiful and pristine  seeds of peace in our minds, hearts  and spirits in the way our forefathers had persistently done since time immemorial which has placed us and other Pacific  peoples among the most peaceful, loving and caring people of the world.

Let us begin with ourselves here at this gathering and commit ourselves to spread the seeds of peace at all levels so that all nations and peoples can enjoy a happy coexistence completely free from fear of their neighbor and free from the scourge of war and from the threat of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in line with the visions and dreams of the founding fathers of the United Nations and all peace loving peoples of the world.

I thank you.

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