South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor welcomed the coming into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on Friday.
In a statement she said: “22 January 2021 marks a turning point in humanity’s endeavour to rid the world of nuclear weapons. It is the culmination of the very first UN General Assembly resolution in 1946, which sought to deal with elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons adaptable to mass destruction.
“It cannot be over emphasised that the TPNW (Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons) is not the final word on nuclear weapons, but a critical step in the evolution of the regime required to achieve and eventually maintain a world without nuclear weapons.
“Its approach is consistent with the approach taken in eliminating other unacceptable weapons, where prohibition preceded elimination,” she said.
South Africa is of the view the TPNW represents one of the most important developments in the nuclear disarmament arena since 1945.
The TPNW not only complements the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) but strengthens it, as the TPNW represents the highest non-proliferation standard any State can commit to.
It also provides an opportunity for States not in nuclear weapon-free zones to join an instrument expressing total opposition to nuclear weapons.
The denuclearisation of South Africa is symbiotically linked to the country’s democratisation.
In his last address to the UN General Assembly in 1998, late President Nelson Mandela posed a pertinent question in relation to nuclear weapons when he said: “We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction – why do they need them anyway?”
Pandor on Friday renewed South Africa’s commitment to the total elimination of nuclear weapons as the only guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again by anyone, under any circumstances.