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WorldWednesday, October 4

New Zealand Educates Youth on Nuclear Disarmament

New Zealand is a staunch advocate of abolishing nuclear arms. Its policy coalesced in the 80s after strong opposition. And as a new generation grows up, the country is still committed to educating them about the horrors of nuclear weapons.

A commemoration of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima takes place annually in staunchly anti-nuclear New Zealand. The country adopted an anti-nuclear policy decades ago. Opposition had grown over the years as France repeatedly tested its nuclear weapons in the region's waters. New Zealand's policy bans the country from possessing nuclear arms or bringing them into its territory. Nuclear power isn't used in the country either.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the policy. A school focusing on teaching students the importance of disarmament invited survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to recount their painful experiences.

15-year-old Yasmin Clements-Levi, who heard the accounts of survivors for the first time, said "I'm really glad that I learned now, really exactly what they've gone through and how it affects them to this day."

The school held a debate to help students think more deeply about the issue. Some of the students were against nuclear weapons. "It's just horrible -- the fact that so many people can die. It's generally not worth it to have them in the world at all." "If a terrorist group like ISIS were to get nukes, they could cause infinite destruction."

Others maintained that they're necessary. "If you talk about the ethical issue of having nuclear weapons, the possibility could be considered a good thing because it stops any war from escalating," said a student.

Yasmin also gave her opinion: "The fact is that as long as we keep them, the higher the chance will be that we will have a nuclear war."

The teacher says the point wasn't to reach a conclusion, but to expose students to a range of opinions to get them thinking about nuclear weapons. "I think it's absolutely vital as Kiwis that -- of course they can form their own opinions -- but to make them aware of the consequences that nuclear weapons can have, and that New Zealand must stay nuclear-free," she says.

"I'd like to see this young generation coming together again in the future to actually take an action, now to get rid of the nuclear weapons," Yasmin says.

30 years may have passed since New Zealand's policy began, but support for it still remains strong. New Zealanders are passing it down to make sure the idea never fades away.