PALAU LAWMAKERS HESITATE ON NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY

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By Nazario Rodriguez, Jr.

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 2) – The Republic of Palau House of Delegates has deferred on Wednesday a House Joint Resolution to accede to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which was introduced by President Remengesau.

[PIR Editor’s Note: According to its official website, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions.]

The House Committee on Foreign Affairs and State Relations expressed beliefs that recent international events like the controversial nuclear testing by North Korea have raised the likelihood that nuclear weapons could be used within the Pacific and Asian geographical regions.

The committee chaired by Floor Leader William Ngiraikelau recommended the passage of House Joint Resolution No. 7-4-1 saying that the accession to the Treaty will send an international message regarding Palau’s position on nuclear testing.

The committee said that this would also show the country’s further commitment toward banning such catastrophic weapons.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Treaty on September 10, 1996 and it was signed and ratified by 176 nations.

Palau has singed the treaty on August 12, 2003 but has yet to ratify it.

The Committee’s report said that the Treaty’s intent is to prevent and eventually eliminate nuclear proliferation, tests and explosions.

This is "by requiring signatory parties to not carry out nuclear weapon test explosions, prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under the signatory’s jurisdiction, control and to refrain from causing, encouraging or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other explosion."

The Committee said that accession to the treaty is in the best interest of Palau, which historically opposed nuclear weapons.

Article XIII Section 6 of the Palau Constitution states that "harmful substances such as nuclear, chemical, gas or biological weapons intended for use in warfare, nuclear power plants and waste materials therefrom, shall not be used, tested, stored, or disposed of within the territorial jurisdiction of Palau without the express approval of not less than three-fourths (3/4) of the votes cast in referendum submitted on this specific question."

In a related issue, the House of Delegates adopted the House Joint Resolution to ratify the accession of Palau to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material as part of the country’s commitment to cooperation to prevent and combat terrorism.

House Joint Resolution No. 7-2-1 was also introduced by President Remengesau in relation to its international obligation and the United Nation’s goal for universal adoption of the 12 counter terrorism conventions.

The Convention establishes levels of physical protection of nuclear material used of peaceful purposes while in international transport and also provides measures against unlawful acts with respect to such material while in international transport.

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