In response to the Albanese Government’s release of the 2024 Defence Strategic Review, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, ICAN Australia, says it’s time for Australia to cease the policy of supporting the use of nuclear weapons on our behalf and to abandon the myth of Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) once and for all. 

Section 1.25 of the Review states that “Russia, China and North Korea are building more diverse and sophisticated nuclear arsenals, while Iran continues to breach its nuclear-related obligations. Australia’s best protection against the increasing risk of nuclear escalation is US extended nuclear deterrence and the pursuit of new avenues of arms control.”

ICAN Australia Acting Director, Jemila Rushton, said that “relying on END signals a support for the potential use of nuclear weapons, which would wreak a humanitarian catastrophe on hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people. This policy supports the use and possession of nuclear weapons, but  it is clearly illegal under the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It’s time for Australia to move to a nuclear weapon-free defence policy, end our support for END, and join the TPNW.”

“Australia is out of step with our region in continuing to imagine that “nuclear deterrence” makes us safer.

“Almost all countries from our region recognise the enormous risk nuclear weapons pose, either from intentional use, hacking/disruptive technologies, or just human or technical error. In the last few decades, we have had multiple near misses. We cannot continue to rely on luck. 

“Our regional neighbours recognise nuclear weapons as the worst of the weapons of mass destruction. Almost all have already signed the TPNW.

“Australia has signed all the multilateral treaties banning other weapons of mass destruction. Signing the TPWW is indeed “a new avenue for arms control” and would not only reduce the risk of proliferation but also increase pressure on nuclear armed states to re-enter negotiations for verifiable, balanced reductions in stockpiles.

“Australia must listen to the 92 countries who met late last year at the Second Meeting of States parties (2MSP)  to the TPNW when they said that the “perpetuation and implementation of nuclear deterrence in military and security concepts, doctrines and policies not only erodes and contradicts nonproliferation, but also obstructs progress towards nuclear disarmament.” Nuclear deterrence has been sold to us as a ‘guarantee of security’, when it is actually a flawed and dangerous gamble.”

In their conclusion to 2MSP, ICAN International stated “There remains an information gap between what would actually happen as a result of nuclear war and the policies of the nuclear-armed states and their allies, and efforts to bridge this gap are the primary responsibility of those whose policies include the use of nuclear weapons.”