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Vanuatu to sign UN treaty banning nuclear weapons

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Vanuatu is among six Pacific nations expected to sign a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons later this week.

Tim Wright, the Asia Pacific Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said that the island countries that have said they would sign the treaty this week also include Palau, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Solomon Islands, reports RNZ.

Marshall Islands President Hilda Heine said her government was still considering whether to sign the treaty. This is despite the Marshall Islands ambassador to the UN, Amatlain Kabua, earlier this year joining with representatives of over 120 nations who voted in favour of the UN resolution supporting the treaty.

President Heine said obviously the Marshall Islands – from its own experience – doesn’t want anyone to ever use nuclear weapons, but it is a complicated issue and the treaty ‘deserved due time for consideration and consultation’.

The Marshalls was ground zero for 67 US nuclear weapons tests conducted at Bikini and Enewetak atolls between 1946 and 1958. It also hosts the Reagan Test Site, a major U.S. Army missile testing facility at Kwajalein Atoll.

While the treaty bans the use or possession of nuclear material, it also prevents its signatories from encouraging other countries to do so.