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Pacific Islands Forum slams AUKUS pact, demands to keep region nuke-free

Henry Puna

By Pacific Island Times News Staff

The UN Security Council on Monday marked the 25th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, with calls for its entry into force and the elimination of nuclear weapons everywhere.

The Security Council commemorated the treaty more than a week after Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom announced their trilateral security pact that will entail the deployment of nuclear submarines in Australia.

Speaking at the event, theRobert Floyd, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization pointed to its “near universal adherence”, with 185 signatures and 170 ratifications.

He said the treaty “has created and sustained a norm against nuclear testing so powerful, that less than one dozen tests have been conducted since adoption, and only one country has violated it this millennium.”

In the Pacific area, regional leaders expressed concerns over the AUKUS pact.

“We will engage with all our Forum members to fully understand the implications of this announcement,” Henry Puna, secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, said during the commemoration of International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on Sept. 26.


Puna said Pacific island nations are frustrated at the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, and the growing anxiety they cause given their catastrophic consequences.

“In our region, the potential for strategic miscalculation grows, further exacerbated by intensifying geopolitical competition” Puna said.

The Indo-Pacific is re-emerging as the theater of power showcase among the world’s superpowers. The U.S. has been sharpening the “tip of spear,” keeping its forces in the region alert for threats from China and North Korea.

Plans to develop nuclear submarines in Australia will augment the existing resources in the region.

Guam is home port to four Los Angeles-class attack submarines: USS Key West (SSN 722), USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), USS Topeka (SSN 754) and USS Asheville (SSN 758).

“A day that once again reminds us of our painful nuclear legacy where our Blue Pacific Continent was subjected for five consecutive decades to the scourge of these deadly weapons following World War II. Sadly, we continue to confront these ongoing impacts and unresolved issues,” Puna said.

Puna reminded the world community that the Blue Pacific remains a nuclear -free zone under the framework of the Rarotonga Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

"I call on nuclear weapon states, all of whom have legally demonstrated their intent to uphold our nuclear free-zone, and their allies to make every effort to eliminate nuclear weapons and to prevent non-peaceful nuclear activities," Puna said.

"This is essential to any formula for regional and global unity, peace, security and prosperity. We must unite in solidarity as a region to address our nuclear legacy issues, the impacts of Covid-19 and the existential threat of climate change."

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