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Life on Earth and the NPT

Minister Marian Hobbs

     ... New Zealand's former Minister of Disarmament & Arms Control and Minister for the Environment. New Zealand is considered a global leader on the issue of nuclear disarmament. Minister Hobbs' portfolio also assigns her responsibility for New Zealand's Law Commission, National Library, Archives, Urban Affairs and she is associate minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Justice, and Biosecurity. Minister Hobbs entered electoral politics after a 25 year career as a teacher. She has grown children.


The threat of a nuclear holocaust did not go away with the end of the Cold War. Large numbers of very nasty nuclear weapons are, at this very moment, pointed at the United States. And American nuclear bombs are on hair-trigger alert pointed at others. But New Zealand’s former Minister of Disarmament and Arms Control Marian Hobbs wants us to resist the temptation to be terrified, because however legitimate, fear stops people in their tracks, she knows.

Instead, Marian Hobbs says, ordinary people must, once again, get active. Demand action from their political leaders. That’s what it took to get the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed in 1968. Now this Non-Proliferation Treaty is the solemn law of the 188 signator nations (everyone in the world except India, Israel, Pakistan.) And there's no backing out.

In May, 2005, 190 nations will gather in New York for a month-long, five-yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treat. Yes, issues of horizontal proliferation (from one country to the next) will be on the table. Minister Hobbs says issues of vertical proliferation (building further nuclear capacity inside a "have" nation, as the United States has threatened to do) are also vital.

The countries that did not have nuclear weapons and agreed to forswear them have proven the Treaty remarkably successful. It has in fact acted to restrain the spread of nuclear weapons' capability. But many "have-not" countries now say that the "have" nuclear countries have not lived up to their side of the bargain. They agreed to dramatic reductions in weapons and have not done it. Bombs on all sides are still on hair-trigger alert. Nuclear nations even have their weapons on other people's soil.

It's time to strengthen the Treaty, Minister Hobbs and many other world leaders say. She is convinced that this can happen if enough regular people speak up and force their politicians to act on behalf of life.

While she dreams of and works for disarmament, Minister Hobbs, diplomats, and politicians from around the world are realistic. They know disarmament won’t happen overnight. Interim successes are their goal. Many have-not nations are calling for the haves to create REAL security. De-alert hair-triggered bombs. Remove nuclear weapons situated in other countries. Be serious. Act in good faith.

T.H. Ms. Hobbs says she has great faith in grass roots movement. Around the world, people must begin to talk about issues of peace -- peace in the playgrounds, peace in our communities, international peace and how we can arrive at it, plus the big picture of nuclear disarmament.

Talk to each other and talk to politicians, she urges. Set the standards of how we will live together, in terms of nuclear weapons as well as the environment (another of her ministerial portfolios.) It's your job as a human being, she insists. Remember, Minister Hobbs says. It was regular people who demanded the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in the first place. And got it.



[This Program was recorded January 28, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.]

Conversation 1

Minister Marian Hobbs summarizes for Paula Gordon and Bill Russell the vital nature of nuclear disarmament for people and all life-forms on Earth. She describes the role of travel in the lives of New Zealanders. 

Conversation 1 RealAudio7:24

Conversation 2


New Zealand has no nuclear weapons, Minister Hobbs reports, and explains New Zealand's central role in issues of global disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. She describes New Zealand's system of Ministers holding a variety of portfolios. She explains why transparency in international dealings is vital and should be advanced, along with verification, then compares the world's immense expenditures for weapons to how little is spent on a range of pressing needs. Hiroshima is remembered.

Conversation 1 RealAudio8:49

Conversation 3

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treat (NPT) is outlined, along with the responsibilities to which 188 nations (both with and without nuclear weapons) have legally bound themselves. Recalling the terror of a nuclear holocaust before the Non-Proliferation Treat, Minister Hobbs urges individuals to work at the community level for a livable future. She criticizes "news" that replaces journalism with antagonism, then describes how disagreements are addressed among New Zealand's Cabinet members. She describes the evolution of the Ottawa Convention on landmines and relates it to possibilities for nuclear non-proliferation.

Conversation 1 RealAudio13:08

Conversation 4

Minister Hobbs reiterates the importance of keeping faith with the treat process. She is eager that increased public accountability be built into the treaty during its regular five-year review in 2005, aware that countries can "grow" a treaty. Bombs undermine security, not enhance it, she insists, then points to the very different outcomes of thinking of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as "an end to war" versus "the beginning of an enormous problem." She objects both to horizontal and vertical proliferation now being considered by the U.S.

Conversation 1 RealAudio11:05


Conversation 5

Minister Hobbs describes how New Zealand's circumstances resulted in long-term, bipartisan support on issues of nuclear disarmament. (New Zealand is officially a Nuclear Free Zone.) "Really nasty" nuclear weapons are still aimed at the U.S. and the U.S. still targets other countries with them, she reminds Americans. She suggests that as an act of good-faith, nuclear nations take nuclear weapons off other people's soil and de-alert them. Even short of disarmament, steps toward it are important, she believes. Americans can be proud its government has worked with Russia to down-blend Russia's enormous stockpile of highly-enriched uranium. Minister Hobbs reiterates the binding nature of international treaties on all nation states.

Conversation 1 RealAudio10:57

Conversation 6

Individuals around the world CAN make a difference in the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Minister Hobbs believes, and suggests effective grassroots work to strengthen the treaty over the long term, starting in classrooms.

Conversation 1 RealAudio4:17


Minister Hobbs graciously added us to her already-full schedule, cheerfully joining us in Conversation when she was in the United States (The Carter Center, Atlanta, GA) with other high-level representatives of key governments for the “Atlanta Consultation II: On the Future of the NPT” (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). We appreciate her personal commitment to this vital subject. We also thank the people of New Zealand for steadfastly resisting others' destructive urges.

Special thanks to Matthew Werner, Assistant to the President/Program Associate at the Global Security Institute for his central role in making the arrangements that resulted in this program.

We thank The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, both for the courteous welcome they extended to us and for hosting high-level representatives of key governments to the “Atlanta Consultation II: On the Future of the NPT” (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty). We were significantly enlightened by the public sessions, when the Middle Powers Initiative organized an Extraordinary Strategy Consultation on the NPT 2005 Review Conference, in cooperation with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, January 26-28, 2005, at The Carter Center in Atlanta, GA, US.


Related Links:

For more information about the catastrophic threat nuclear weapons continue to pose to the world, visit the Global Security Institute's website. You can also identify resources and better understand strategies for bringing genuine security to the world by disarming and abolishing nuclear weapons. Former President Jimmy Carter and the Carter Center continue to be actively involved in working to see the signatory nations, particularly the United States, meet their legal obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For more about New Zealand's government and the Hon Marian Hobbs' responsibilities within it, visit their websites.  Wikipedia has a brief summary of her career.

Under the auspices of the Global Security Institute, Jane Goodall and Jonathan Granoff have been working to get the announced nuclear powers who signed the NPT to meet their treaty obligations to reduce the number and power of nuclear weapons in their stockpiles.

Former Finnish Ambassador to the United States Jukka Valtasarri (representing another of the "Middle Powers") presents another view of how small, developed nations cope with the large national powers.

In Age of Anxiety:  McCarthyism to Terrorism, Haynes Johnson reports that the United States spent $11 trillion fighting the Cold War.  Much of that money was spent on nuclear weapons, research and related technologies.  Mr. Johnson then writes:

In fact, America was not in danger of being defeated by the Soviet Union.  It was the Soviet Union which was declining, and to such an extent that its eventual disintegration could be foreseen decades before its final fall.  What's more, THe U.S. security services were well aware of the Soviet Union's deteriorating condition. (page 118, first hardback edition)

Much of those trillions of dollars was wasted.

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