Peace Groups Urge Govt To Follow Senate, and Support UN Weapons Resolution

October 28, 2003

Peace Groups Urge Govt To Follow Senate, and Support UN Weapons Resolution

Friends of The Earth Australia
Australian Peace Committee
Campaign For International Cooperation And Disarmament (CICD)

Australian peace groups have urged the government to follow yesterdays vote by the Australian Senate in support of the New Agenda Resolution 'Towards a nuclear weapon free world: a New Agenda' supported by South Africa, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Sweden and Ireland, which is being put through the United Nations General Assembly's First Committee on disarmament on 29 October.

According to the groups:

"The New Agenda Resolution, as it is known, is a pro-active, reasonable, and moderately - worded way forward toward nuclear disarmament that presses the nuclear weapons states to honour their 30-year old obligations under article VI of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to proceed toward the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. The New Agenda resolution expresses strong concern over the prospect of nuclear proliferation brought about by a nuclear-armed North Korea, while urging the nuclear weapons states to come good on their own disarmament obligations.

Without progress toward nuclear disarmament there is a strong possibility that we could be looking at a complete breakdown in the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the near future. It is therefore desperately important that Australia send a strong signal to the Bush administration that it must face up to its responsibilities and obligations on nuclear disarmament, instead of merely threatening other countries in a way calculated to push them to do the very opposite of what we would wish them to do."

Australia has voted previously for the New Agenda resolution in UNGA. We urge the government to support it again instead of abstaining as it has done recently."

For more information contact:

John Hallam (FOE-A)
Ph: 02-9810-2598, 9567-7533

Irene Gale (APC)
Ph: 08-8364-2291

Pauline Mitchell CICD
Ph: 03-9663-3677

New Agenda Motion in General Assembly

The NAC motion moved by Australian Democrats' Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett passed the Senate today:

That the Senate-

(a)expresses concern about the growing risks posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the potential for further proliferation, plans for the research, development, testing and deployment of new types of nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapons states, and the broadening role being given to nuclear weapons in security strategies;

(b)notes the New Agenda Coalition resolution introduced in the 58th United Nations (UN) General Assembly First Committee entitled `Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda' and:

(i)notes that this resolution is similar to resolution A/RES/57/59 which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002 by a vote of 125 to 6 with 36 abstentions, and

(ii)commends the New Agenda Coalition for:

(a)setting out a series of practical and necessary steps to curb nuclear proliferation and achieve nuclear disarmament, based on the thirteen disarmament steps agreed by all state parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2000, and

(b)making changes to the draft resolution at the current session of the UN General Assembly in order to meet the concerns of states such as Australia which abstained on the vote in 2002, in particular to highlight the dangers of nuclear proliferation and call on all states, including North Korea, Israel, Pakistan, Iran and India, to subscribe to the NPT and accept full-scope safeguards on their nuclear facilities;

(c)also notes the New Agenda Coalition resolution introduced in the 58th UN General Assembly First Committee entitled `Reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons' and:

(i)notes that this resolution is similar to resolution A/RES/57/58 which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2002 by a vote of 120 to 3 with 42 abstentions, and

(ii)commends the New Agenda Coalition for:

(a)drawing attention to the need to deal with this class of nuclear weapons, of which there are more than 4 000 in the stockpiles of the nuclear weapons states;

(b)making changes to the draft resolution at the current session of the UN General Assembly in order to meet the concerns of states such as Australia which abstained on the vote in 2002, in particular changes to address the particular concerns surrounding the tactical nuclear weapons possessed by Russia, and

(iii)expresses concern about the threat posed by non-strategic weapons due to their portability, proximity to areas of conflict and probability of pre-delegation in case of military conflict, and thus about the risk of proliferation and of early, pre-emptive, unauthorised or accidental use; and

(d)calls on the Government to support the New Agenda Coalition resolutions in the 58th UN General Assembly First Committee `Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: the need for a new agenda' (item A/C.1/58/L.40) and `Reduction of non-strategic nuclear weapons' (A/C.1/58/L.39) and consequential votes in the UN General Assembly.