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Minister A. Boolell replies to LALIT letter on Nuclear Weapons Convention


We are publishing a reply from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to a LALIT Open Letter calling for Mauritian support for the negotiations for a new Nuclear Weapons Convention. LALIT notes with interest that, in his reply, Minister Arvind Boolell gives a clear outline of the Government’s position on this issue, as well as the Government's stand on the Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear-Arms Free Africa and its relation to U.S. military base on Diego Garcia. We note that this kind of clear reply has become increasingly rare when letters are addressed to the Mauritian State.

We are also pasting LALIT's original Open Letter, sent to the Minister on 6th June 2012, signed by Alain Ah-Vee.

Mr Alain Ah Vee
153 Main Rd
Port Louis

Dear Sir,

Subject: Negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention

I wish to thank you for your letter of 6 June 2012, requesting Mauritius to support the negotiation process on a Nuclear Weapons Convention. I am personally pleased to see the interest that you and LALIT have in espousing such lofty causes and ridding the world of the scourge of nuclear weapons.

As you may be aware, Mauritius is a party to a number of treaties and conventions related to nuclear disarmament, including the Treaty on Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). While the Government strongly supports efforts to completely abolish all nuclear weapons, it also believes that this should be based on a comprehensive and 'non-discriminatory' nuclear disarmament regime.

Mauritius is also a party to the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, also known as the Pelindaba Treaty, which aims to prohibit nuclear weapons on the African continent, including the Chagos Archipelago, and which entered into force on 15 July 2009. In November 2012 and as part of our national strategy, Mauritius was able to get elected to serve for a three-year term as a member of the African Commission on Nuclear Energy (AFCONE), which was established for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Treaty.

Mauritius does not favour any Non-Nuclear States nurturing ambitions to acquire nuclear weapons and would like the current nuclear weapon states to firmly commit to total nuclear disarmament. This is reiterated each year by the Prime Minister when he addresses the United Nations General Assembly. It may also be noted that since the entry into force of the NPT in 1970, and despite the commitment provided by its Article VI regarding nuclear disarmament, no negotiations have started yet on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

In this regard, Mauritius fully supports the negotiation process on a Nuclear Weapons Convention and will see to it that it sets the basis for a 'non discriminatory' disarmament regime and involves Non-NPT states too. Mauritius has voted in favour of the successive UN resolutions which called on the Conference on Disarmament to commence negotiations on an international convention prohibiting the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons under any circumstances.

I wish to thank you again for raising such important matters as disarmament and raising awareness about them. I am pleased too that LALIT, as part of our civil society, is contributing to the discussion and engaging more widely on such important themes as nuclear disarmament.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. A.Boolell, GOSK

LALIT's Open Letter to the Minister

Dear Sir,

On the 2nd June 2012 thousands of campaigners throughout the world launched a global action calling on their governments to engage immediately in the process of negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). Such a convention would prohibit the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons. This initiative forms part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a global campaign active in more than 60 countries.

Nuclear weapons have given humanity the power to destroy itself and severely degrade our Mother Earth’s capacity to support life and to do this within a few hours. Without the elimination of these weapons of mass destruction, which some eight states presently possess, human survival in the 21st century is severely jeopardised. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) at the start of 2012, the US , Russia , France , Israel , UK , China , Pakistan and India owned some 19,000 nuclear warheads. In a recent statement the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross said: “ Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause… and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity.”

The nuclear bomb, an ultimate weapon of terror, is condemned by more than a dozen basic principles of international law. In July 1996 the International Court of Justice, unanimously held in an Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear weapons that “ there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negociations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” In December 2006 at the UN General Assembly, 125 governments, including nuclear armed China , India and Pakistan , called upon states to immediately fulfill their nuclear disarmament obligations leading to an early conclusion of a NWC aiming at the banning of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination. So there is now a majority of States that want a NWC, and to-day numerous anti-war, anti-bases and peace organisations, and a large majority of citizens, including those in nuclear weapon states, are mobilising in favour of a nuclear-weapon-free future.

We call on your Ministry to actively support this international move for a NWC which can reinforce existing regional mechanism such as the Pelindaba Treaty for an Africa free of nuclear weapons, and thus help in enforcing complaints and inquiries into the UK-US illegal military occupation on Diego Garcia, where US nuclear submarines are stationed and serviced. The Mauritian government, in particular you as Minister of Foreign Affairs, should use all regional and international forums to build support for this NWC process. Giving support to a NWC would contribute in changing the balance of forces in favour of the international movement against imperialist wars, and against military bases and help to free the world of nuclear weapons and thus ensuring that the lives of its people, and future generations, are not anymore exposed to the threat of such weapons of mass destruction.

Alain Ah-Vee

Cc : The Press