Please Write to Foreign Minister Downer

April 11, 2005

Please Write to Foreign Minister Downer now urging nuclear disarmament at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, New York, May 2 - May 27.

Here's why we would like you to write to Foreign Minister Downer concerning the NPT Review Conference in New York May 2-27.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 2005 Review Conference will take place at the UN in New York May 2-27, 2005.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), for all its many faults, is the world's best bulwark against the unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons.

As IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei has pointed out, the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation today are greater than ever.

The unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons would make it inevitable that at some point, by either accident or by miscalculation, or by malice or madness, somewhere, somebody would actually use a nuclear weapon.

Already, there is deep concern over the acquisition or the possible future acquisition of nuclear weapons by North Korea (who may have as many as a dozen) and by Iran (who most probably have none).

India and Pakistan, who officially 'went nuclear' in 1998, having actually achieved that capability years previously, stood poised terrifyingly on the brink of a nuclear exchange for almost a year in 2002-3.

Rumors have circulated of plans to acquire nuclear weapons by both Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

The NPT is seen by most nations as a bargain, whereby the nuclear weapons states agree under Article VI, of the treaty, to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, while everyone else agrees not to acquire nuclear weapons if they do not already possess them.

The NPT is often wrongly portrayed as a treaty that allows the NWS to KEEP their nuclear weapons while preventing others from having them.

This is not how the treaty says, nor is it what has been agreed on at NPT review conference after review conference. In 1996, the International Court of Justice agreed unanimously that Article VI imposed an obligation on the NWS to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Conference after conference has reaffirmed the 'total and unequivocal' commitment to eliminate nuclear arsenals.

However, most recently, it has become clear that the Bush administration IS seeking to change the NPT so that it will no longer obligate the NWS to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. The Bush administration is saying that it 'no longer supports' the 13 steps agreed to at the last NPT Review conference in 2000. It says that agreement of the year 2000 review conference is 'merely historical' and should be set aside.

This will open the floodgates for the disintegration of the NPT. IAEA director Mohammed El Baradei has already said repeatedly that it is unsustainable for the nuclear weapons states to claim a right to hold nuclear weapons in perpetuity, while asking others not to develop them.

Don't let the NPT be trashed.

Write to Mr Downer, urging the preservation of the NPT, and in particular of Article VI.

SAMPLE LETTER TO FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNER

Please write in your own words as much as possible - it is preferable to handwrite the letter.

Fax 6273-4112 (Adelaide 08-8370-8166)

The Hon. Alexander Downer, Foreign Minister, Parliament House Canberra, ACT 2600

Dear Foreign Minister Downer,

I am writing to you to urge you to support the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and in particular article VI of that treaty, obliging the nuclear weapons states to achieve the total and unequivocal elimination of their nuclear arsenals, at the upcoming NPT Review conference starting on May 1 2005 in New York.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is the best and only legal bulwark against the unlimited proliferation of nuclear weapons that the world has. Under article VI of the NPT, it also clearly obliges the nuclear weapons states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Without a clear commitment to eliminate the nuclear arsenals of the established nuclear weapons states, a nonproliferation policy that relies only on measures to prevent more countries obtaining nuclear weapons, and that does not make real progress toward the elimination of arsenals that still have the capability to destroy civilisation and most life, cannot succeed.

A successful nonproliferation policy must go hand in hand with clear progress toward nuclear disarmament to which the nuclear weapons states are obligated, and which is desired by the overwhelming majority of the peoples and governments of the world.

A first step toward the elimination of nuclear arsenals as required under article VI of the NPT, that was recommended strongly by Australia's own Canberra Commission back in 1996, is the lowering of the operational status of nuclear weapons systems. This could be the single step that would do most to make the world a safer place. We note and support the mention of that measure in the joint Australia - Japan resolution at the most recent UNGA.

We urge your government to support measures in the coming NPT Review Conference that will promote the balanced and mutually reinforcing implementation of both nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation goals, so essential to the safety of civilisation, and of living things generally.

We strongly urge you to work closely with the New Agenda, and NAM Groups to achieve that goal, as well as pressing for the adoption of Australia's own distinctive contributions to the disarmament debates.

Signed....

URLs for further information:

Friends of the Earth Australia
http://www.foe.org.au

Reaching Critical Will Website in New York
http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org

Medical Association for the Prevention of War
http://www.mapw.org.au

John Hallam
Nuclear Weapons Campaigner Friends of the Earth Australia,
nonukes@foesyd.org.au 61-2-9567-7533
1 Henry Street Turella NSW Aust 2205