SYDNEY – New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Tuesday the reinstatement of the Cabinet position of Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control to emphasize its long held anti-nuclear stance and amid continuing tension in the Asia-Pacific region over repeated weapons tests by North Korea.
Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters is set to take charge of the new portfolio, according to a government press release.
“Risks to global peace and security are growing. The greatest challenge we have today comes from North Korea, situated right here in our region,” Ardern had said during her first major foreign policy address at the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in Wellington.
She added that New Zealand must uphold, now and in the future, its anti-nuclear position, and related disarmament issues, including chemical weapons and conventional weapons.
“We must recommit ourselves to the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament, and to the norms and rules which support those endeavors,” Ardern said.
New Zealand had adopted a firm policy against the development of nuclear weapons decades ago.
In the mid-1980s, the then Labor government had banned the entry of ships that were either nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed, which had led to the suspension of ANZUS, a security treaty it had signed with the United States.
Ardern also announced on Tuesday the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which New Zealand and another 55 nations signed in July.