Five questions for the Prime Minister
by Scott Burchill (1) You have said that "Australia doesn't have chemical or biological or nuclear weapons and we don't want them, we don't have them. And we don't think other countries, other than those authorised by international agreement should have them" (Radio 6PR, 30 January, 2003). Israel has chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It was able to acquire them because of technology proliferation by France and the US. It has refused to declare that it has such weapons. It has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has not signed any international agreements which authorise it to stockpile these weapons. What steps will the Australian Government take to disarm Israel of its weapons of mass destruction? Could you outline the international agreements which permit Pakistan and India to possess nuclear weapons and, if not, the steps you are taking to disarm them? (2) You have said that it is "in Australia's interests to prevent the spread of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons to more states than now have them and particularly the states that are rogue states." (Radio 6PR, 30 January, 2003). Will you be telling Washington and London to ensure that they do not return to their policies of the recent past that provided Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction? What steps are you taking against more than 150 Western companies — listed in Iraq's weapons declaration to the UN last December — which sold Iraq the technologies to develop weapons of mass destruction? What steps are you taking against France for assisting Israel to develop nuclear weapons? What steps are you taking against Pakistan for assisting North Korea to develop nuclear weapons? (3) You have said that "...there are a lot of people who argue that there is already adequate authority under existing United Nations resolutions for further military action [against Iraq]" (ABC Radio, 31 January, 2003). Is this your view, based on legal advice the Government has received? Will you publicly release this advice? (4) You have said that "... only five years ago, both sides of politics in Australia were willing to countenance a situation where we would be involved [in military action against Iraq] without the passage of an additional special resolution"(ABC Radio, 31 January, 2003). Will you release the Government's advice on the legality of this action? (5) You have said that "you could have a resolution that is carried by a majority of the Security Council but it's vetoed by one country. Now, I think there would be strong opinion here that that one veto should not stand in the way of the implementation of the majority will of the Security Council" (ABC Radio, 31 January, 2003). Could you explain the legal basis for disregarding Security Council votes in this way? What precedents exist for this approach to UNSC vetoes? Will you also adopt this approach towards Washington's consistent use of its veto power to block UNSC resolutions on Israel's breaches of international law when it stands in the way of the majority will of the Security Council?
* * *Scott Burchill is a Lecturer in International Relations, School of Social & International Studies, Deakin University. website: http://arts.deakin.edu.au/burchill/