Australia dumps nuclear disarmament at the UN
At the United Nations, Australia has voted against a resolution calling for a new agenda to achieve a nuclear weapons- free world. Australia's representative objected to a key paragraph that opposed missile defence and the weaponisation of outer space. The paragraph in question expressed concern that the development of missile defences could impact negatively on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, and lead to a new arms race on earth and in outer space. The paragraph emphasised that no steps should be taken that would lead to the weaponisation of outer space. Australia later abstained from a vote against non-strategic nuclear weapons. It took this pro-nuclear weapon stance despite a recommendation from the Australian Senate to vote in favour of the resolutions. Australia has a proud record of promoting nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation initiatives, from 1973 to 1996. However, the latest moves are part of a new pattern of Australia voting against any such initiatives. In the recent past Australia has also voted against a resolution from the non-aligned movement promoting nuclear disarmament, and another from India concerning reduction of nuclear dangers. In 1996, the International Court of Justice brought down a judgement that nuclear weapons are illegal, but at the UN Australia recently voted against a Malaysian resolution in support of that judgement. A joint statement from Friends of the Earth Australia and the Australian Peace Committee (SA) subsequently declared: "Australia's vote shows that we are not really serious in supporting nuclear disarmament in the UN or elsewhere. . we have failed yet another opportunity to send a powerful signal to our allies that they must take nuclear disarmament seriously. "The Australian Government has concluded that nuclear disarmament means monstering the DPRK [North Korea], not in pushing the established weapons states to abide by their long-standing disarmament obligations." The Western world's media has focused much of its attention on the nuclear program of the DPRK. It says little about the nuclear capability of other nations, including that of Israel, which has a highly advanced nuclear weapons program. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency recently told a French newspaper that between 35 and 40 countries are now believed capable of manufacturing nuclear arms within a very short period of time. ElBaradei stated that a new version of the Nuclear Non- proliferation Treaty was needed. "We have to reach agreement on limiting the construction, in civilian programmes, of nuclear material for military ends by confining this to installations under multilateral control." He also advocated the creation of a new nuclear safety system which would treat the causes of international insecurity, not just their symptoms, and which would be based "not on dissuasion but on fairness and universality".