Australia Should Lead at Nuclear Weapons Conference as Tensions in Pacific, Europe Escalate: Report

As tensions in the Pacific and war in Europe continue to escalate, Australia could play an important global role in reducing the spread and threat of nuclear weapons at an important upcoming conference in New York, according to a new research report.

The Australian Government has been urged to adopt 4 key policy goals to reduce the risk of nuclear war in the lead up to the much-anticipated 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NNTRC) commencing in New York on August 1. The research finds the Albanese Government has an opportunity to reinvigorate efforts to reduce the spread of weapons after stalled progress in recent years.

Key Points:

  • The 10th Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NNTRC) will commence in New York on August 1 after several years of delay due to the pandemic
  • The Conference will consider how to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • The NPT is described as “the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime” and aims to rid the world of nuclear weapons
  • The NPT has become increasingly contested and stalled. In the early years of the NPT, Australia was an enthusiastic advocate and this should be reinvigoratedKey Report Recommendations for Australia :
  • Press for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban treaty
  • Start international negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty to prohibit the production of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium
  • Support a “No first Use” Declaration by all states possessing nuclear weapons
  • Encourage the five nuclear weapons states party to the treaty to pursue bilateral and multilateral negotiations to reduce arsenals and delivery systems.

“As tensions in the Pacific and war in Europe continue to escalate it is worrying that Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is becoming an increasingly contested agreement between nuclear and non-nuclear states,” said Allan Behm, Director of the International & Security Affairs Program at The Australia Institute.

“The 10th NPT Review Conference presents the international community with a critical chance to address this existential threat to humanity. The Albanese Government has an opportunity regain momentum on arms control and disarmament diplomacy that Australia displayed in previous decades.

“As a nation with considerable international agency, Australia is well placed both to initiate progress and to support likeminded countries in their initiatives to tackle this continuing threat to global security.

“If it proceeds, Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear powered submarines under the auspices of the Australia-United Kingdom-United States partnership (AUKUS) will require impeccable non-proliferation credentials on Australia’s part.

“At this review conference, Australia, in collaboration with like-minded countries, needs to lift its game if the Nuclear Weapon States are to be persuaded to take initial steps towards verifiable disarmament.

“The US also needs to resume its role as a disarmament leader, as Presidents Biden has done in the global warming domain by reaching an agreement with China’s President Xi.”

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