North Korea N-test exposes myth of the 'peaceful atom'

October 10, 2006

Reports that North Korea has conducted a nuclear weapon test are of grave concern with regard to international nuclear proliferation and regional stability.

Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Michaela Stubbs said: "North Korea provides the latest demonstration of the link between nuclear power and weapons. Its weapons program has depended crucially on its 'civil' nuclear research and power program, and on support from China. Plutonium produced in North Korea's "experimental power reactor" has long been a cause for concern and may have been used in the regime's nuclear bomb test."

“This development further exposes the myth of the ‘peaceful’ atom and raises the issue of Australia's responsibility in regards to the export of uranium. By exporting uranium Australia contributes to global and regional proliferation risks. The North Korean nuclear test will encourage Japan and South Korea to pursue weapons programs. Plutonium produced in reactors fuelled by Australian uranium is an obvious source of weapons material in both countries."

Friends of the Earth nuclear campaigner Jim Green said: "Australia must act swiftly to ensure the North Korean test does not spark a disintegration of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The failure of the 'declared' Nuclear Weapons States - the US, UK, China, Russia and France - to take seriously their NPT disarmament commitments creates ongoing excuses and incentives for more nation-states to develop weapons."

On the hypocrisy of the Nuclear Weapons states, International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Dr. Mohammed El Baradei said in a 2004 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York: “There are some who have continued to dangle a cigarette from their mouth and tell everybody else not to smoke”.

Green said: "China and the US are both Nuclear Weapons States that have failed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and have no intention of fulfilling their NPT disarmament commitments. Yet Australia continues to supply uranium to the US and is negotiating sales to China."

Contact Michaela Stubbs 0429 136 935

Dr Jim Green 0417 318 368