Disarmament Minister Georgina te Heuheu has welcomed a commitment by the United States to work towards adhering to the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone.

Adopted in 1986, the Treaty of Rarotonga created the zone, in which the use, testing, possession and stationing of nuclear weapons, as well as the dumping of radioactive waste, is banned.

The treaty has three protocols open to the five acknowledged nuclear-weapon states, by which those states commit not to use, threaten to use, test or station nuclear weapons inside the zone. The other four nuclear-weapon states - Russia, China, the United Kingdom and France - have already ratified the protocols.

Mrs te Heuheu is leading a New Zealand delegation at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, where US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced her country's intention to work towards ratifying the protocols to both the Pacific treaty and also to the African nuclear-weapon-free zone.

Mrs te Heuheu said it was also pleasing that Samoa had ratified the Cluster Munitions Convention, which bans cluster munitions.

Samoa is the 31st state to ratify the convention following the 30th ratification on February 17, which triggers the convention's entry into force on August 1.

New Zealand was the 25th country and first Pacific Forum country to ratify and Samoa was the second.

- NZPA