Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says New Zealand must play an important role in continuing international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation.
Ardern held a media briefing after her speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
The Prime Minister took to the United Nations podium this morning to condemn Russia and call for a complete ban on all nuclear weapons.
The prime minister also used her to speak to demand reform of the UN, saying it was irrelevant if the veto of the permanent members of the Security Council were not overturned.
Speaking to the media after her UN address, Ardern said she felt it was important to reaffirm New Zealand’s strong opposition to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“But more than that, New Zealand has long had a reputation for being firm on issues of nuclear non-proliferation and it was very important for me to reiterate that continued opposition on behalf of New Zealand.
“Some of that conversation has been brushed aside over the years, but even this week we’ve seen the threat posed by leaders who have access to nuclear weapons. And I think it’s important now more than ever that New -Zeeland reiterates its strong and determined commitment there.”
Check out Ardern’s stand-up here:
Ardern said New Zealand had the ability to be a “principal” voice in the discussion of nuclear non-proliferation.
“New Zealand is in high demand, we are also highly regarded and that’s not just lately, New Zealand has built a reputation over the decades for being very consistent and principled.
“I’ve been lucky enough to witness the reputation New Zealand has worldwide on issues that matter, such as nuclear issues, so I think it doesn’t really matter how big our size is, the fact that we’ve been so principled and consistent and that right now the world needs solutions to this issue because everyone feels vulnerable.”
Ardern said the alternative to removing nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenal is to assume that we are safer through the idea of mutually assured destruction.
“I don’t think it makes anyone feel any safer because of that and I don’t believe anyone is safer because of that strategy. That’s not to say it’s easy, but our view has always been that the world will be better off without nuclear weapons.
“For us, it’s about a nuclear ban, and we’ve encouraged other parties to at least become observers in that work so we can grow the community that supports that treaty and that statement.
“We currently have an outlier and I believe the emergence of this outlier was demonstrated when the NPT talks could not be essentially successfully concluded. So I would not consider Russia’s current position as indicative of the rest of the world – in fact, Russia’s position shows why the world must strive for consensus and continue to work towards the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons.”
Most of Ardern’s meetings in New York focused on climate change and climate action in the Pacific, she said.
Before the speech, Ardern said she had made some changes in light of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new threats this week to use nuclear weapons during the ongoing war in Ukraine.
She was also unenthusiastic about suggestions that New Zealand could soon expel its Russian ambassador, as sanctions made much more sense.