Foreign affairs department ‘sees no value’ in a pledge, endorsed by 116 countries to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide
Australia has defended its position on nuclear disarmament, saying a push for a global treaty banning nuclear weapons “will not lead to their elimination”.
Guardian Australia reported on Wednesday on a cache of diplomatic cables released under a freedom of information request, showing Australia resisting a growing momentum behind an Austrian-led “humanitarian pledge” to “stigmatise, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.
The pledge, now endorsed by 116 countries, is seen as a precursor to a new global treaty outlawing all nuclear weapons.
But a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) told Guardian Australia it “sees no value” in the Austrian pledge because it ignores the realpolitik of the global nuclear landscape.
None of the five “declared” nuclear nations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty – the US, Britain, France, China and Russia – have endorsed the Austrian pledge.
Nor have any of the countries which have nuclear weapons outside the NPT: India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.
While the superpowers are slowly reducing their stockpiles, they are, at the same time, working to develop new weapons systems or upgrade existing ones. And non-NPT India, Pakistan, and North Korea have increased their nuclear stockpiles in recent years.
Its Asia-Pacific director, Tim Wright, told Guardian Australia the humanitarian pledge had developed an international momentum, and he was confident it would lead to new global negotiations towards outlawing nuclear weapons.
The Australian government’s argument that it required the protection of a foreign power’s nuclear weapons was “a long-held belief that has gone unchallenged”.
“Nuclear weapons undermine safety, they do not enhance it,” Wright said.
A global ban treaty on nuclear weapons would help create a new international norm that the weapons should not be used in any situation.
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