Media Release: Time to END policy of Extended Nuclear Deterrence

Apr 25, 2023 | News

MEDIA RELEASE: Time to END policy of Extended Nuclear Deterrence

25th April 2023

In response to the Albanese Government’s release of the 2023 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 to abandon the myth of Extended Nuclear Deterrence (END) once and for all.

ICAN Australia Director, Gem Romuld, states 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 if detonated. This policy legitimises the use and possession of nuclear weapons and is 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 and end our support for END.”

As a state party to the TPNW Australia will need to cease the practice of claiming protection from the US nuclear arsenal, due to Article 1(e) of the treaty, which outlaws encouragement to possess nuclear weapons, among other prohibitions.

The TPNW has strong public support in Australia. An Ipsos poll in March 2022 showed that 76 per cent of Australians want the government to end any support for nuclear weapons and sign and ratify the treaty.

Margaret Beavis, co-chair of ICAN Australia, states that “The defence strategic review speaks of the need to pursue new avenues for nuclear arms control.

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

“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 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.”