Australian news, and some related international items

Michael Kirby urges Australia to sign up to nuclear weapon ban treaty

Michael Kirby urges Australia to sign up to nuclear weapon ban treaty,  

Former high court judge says it’s a fluke the world has avoided nuclear disasters since the second world war and weapons remain a peril

The former high court judge Michael Kirby believes it was a fluke that the world has avoided further nuclear weapons disasters since the second world war and has urged Australia to sign up to a weapon ban treaty.

Kirby will launch a report in Sydney this week from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which calls for Australia to get on board.

Ican, which was founded in Melbourne, won the 2017 Nobel peace prize for leading the campaign for a global ban on nuclear weapons that resulted in a United Nations treaty being adopted in July 2017.

Kirby seized on the 74th anniversaries this week of the US detonating two nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

“That the world has survived seven decades since Hiroshima is more by good luck than effective management and there is no guarantee that it will continue to do so in an environment of proliferating nuclear weapons,” he said.

He acknowledged the nuclear weapons ban treaty was not perfect but “doing nothing is a far greater weakness”.

“Failing to address the challenges of nuclear weapons to humanity, the safety of the planet and the biosphere, highlights the global community’s failure to respond appropriately and effectively to the existential peril of nuclear weapons,” he said.

The nine nuclear powers, including the US, oppose the weapons ban treaty, arguing it could undermine nuclear deterrence.

More than 120 countries voted for the UN treaty and so far 70 have formally signed up and 24 have ratified the agreement. The treaty comes into force once 50 countries have ratified, which is expected in 2020.

Australia is not on the list. The federal government argues the ban treaty would not eliminate a single nuclear weapon. While Australia doesn’t have any nuclear weapons, it relies on “umbrella protection” under the US alliance.

can co-founder Dr Tilman Ruff said it is possible for Australia to keep its security pact with the US but sign the nuclear weapons treaty.

He pointed out 11 of 17 of the US’s regional allies have voted for the treaty’s adoption and three have signed up, including New Zealand.

“For none of those has there been any disruption or fuss with their ongoing military cooperation with the US,” Ruff said.

Ruff said if Australia was to sign up it would have to reconsider any nuclear weapons link to operations at joint facilities such as the satellite surveillance base Pine Gap in central Australia.

The report suggests the relay ground station at Pine Gap’s western compound would have to be closed or the US would have to separate out defensive functions from nuclear war-fighting.

It’s one of multiple redundant channels,” he said. “It’s clear that function of Pine Gap could easily be removed. Clearly this would need to be a negotiation, it would likely involve processes that would take a couple of years but we think that it’s eminently doable,” he said.

The federal Labor conference last December adopted as party policy a binding resolution to sign and ratify the UN treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons.

Anthony Albanese, who prosecuted that case at the conference, has as party leader reaffirmed his commitment.

“I’m a big supporter of nuclear disarmament. It is something that I’ve supported my entire political life,” Albanese told the ABC Insiders program on Sunday.

“We want to be a part of bringing the world with us. The fact is that over a period of time, issues like landmines and chemical weapons and other weapons have been outlawed, but nuclear weapons, the most catastrophic and damaging that can exist, still remain.”

In government ranks only Liberal MP Warren Entsch and Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd have publicly backed Australia joining the weapon ban treaty. Meanwhile, Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne and defence minister Linda Reynolds met with US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper in Sydney on Sunday for annual talks.

Epser flagged on Saturday he supported placing ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region in the short term.

Asked if northern Australia could be a potential site, he declined to speculate, saying the US deployed systems globally with friends and allies with consent and respect for sovereignty.

“We make decisions based on mutual benefit to each of the countries,” he said.

The US scrapped a nuclear arms pact with Russia on Friday. Both countries have pointed fingers at each other for violating the 1988 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty.

August 6, 2019 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, weapons and war

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: