Australian news, and some related international items

Will Scott Morrison drop support for the Iran nuclear deal, in order to curry favour with Donald Trump?


Why do I not do pictures of Scott Morrison?  Because I can’t be bothered. Morrison will soon be gone and forgotten


Although Australia is not a party to the Iran nuclear deal, Scott Morrison is reviewing whether Australia should follow Donald Trump’s lead and withdraw its support

Known as the Joint Comprehensive Program of Action (JCPOA), this has significantly curbed Iran’s nuclear activities for at least a decade and potentially longer, while subjecting it to the most intrusive verification system applied to any country undefeated in war.

The Trump administration has renounced the agreement and reapplied economic sanctions to Iran.

The government’s policy review was announced during the October 2018 by-election for former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s parliamentary seat of Wentworth and was widely considered a ploy, ultimately unsuccessful, to retain the seat for the Liberal Party.

But even now, it’s not clear whether a real review is occurring or whether the Department of Foreign Affairs is simply going through the motions. Regardless, the result is expected this month.

It’s also not clear whether it was Mr Morrison or Mr Trump who raised the issue during their meeting, but the Prime Minister claimed it as “a success”, noting that Trump “very much welcomed the fact that, as a friend and an ally, we have always been ready to re-look at these things”.

This attempt to curry favour with the famously mercurial president is ill-advised. Quite apart from the inaccuracy of the suggestion that Australia is always willing to reconsider its policies just because it is a US ally (that certainly has not occurred over the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the US refuses to ratify), there are significant political and substantive drawbacks for Australia even hinting that its support for the Iran deal is wavering.

Australia has for decades had a bipartisan policy towards preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. It has actively supported the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatyand the global nuclear safeguards system run by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which verifies compliance with the treaty through on-site inspections and other monitoring.

Australia has also been at the forefront of efforts to strengthen safeguards.

It was the first country to adopt an Additional Protocol, designed to enhance the system after Iraq’s near-acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1990s, and the first to qualify for the so-called Broader Conclusion about its compliance with the Protocol’s rigorous new requirements.

Although Australia wasn’t involved in the Iran negotiations, it was consulted as the talks proceeded and vocally supported the initiative and outcome. To renege now would cast doubt on our longstanding commitment to nuclear non-proliferation, jeopardise our credibility internationally, including at the IAEA, and call into question our commitment to multilateral, negotiated solutions to international problems.

Although not perfect, the Iran agreement was the product of an extraordinary international diplomatic effort to curb Iran’s nuclear weapon activities through a multilateral verifiable arrangement.

It involved not just the United States, but three other Western allies of Australia, the European Three (France, Germany and the United Kingdom), as well as the European Union, China and Russia – all of which are sticking to the accord.

While the Morrison government might have gained fleeting kudos from the Trump administration, Australia risks confounding not just the other JCPOA parties, but friends and allies which endorsed it subsequently, including Canada, Indonesia and Japan.

The only states pleased by Australia’s move would be Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps the worst implication of rejecting the JCPOA is to cast doubt on the plausibility of multilateral negotiations to resolve the North Korean nuclear impasse.


December 6, 2018 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international

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