Penny Wong overruled department by sending observer to anti-nuclear treaty meeting

Feb 8, 2023 | Uncategorized

Open threats to use and develop nuclear weapons have again hit headlines this week. As tensions fluctuate, the risk of nuclear conflict increases. As a state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, Australia must reject all actions and statements that legitimise the use or threat of use of these abhorrent weapons. Nuclear weapons must never be a resort of any nation in war, conflict or even in threat.

As long as nuclear weapons remain in the arsenals of some nations, all nations are at risk.

The indiscriminate, disproportionate and inhumane nature of nuclear weapons have seen them outlawed alongside all other categories of weapons of mass destruction.

The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated and opened for signature at the United Nations in 2017. To date, 80 nations have signed on to this Treaty, and 34 have ratified it. Once the Treaty acquires 50 ratifications it will enter into force.

This landmark agreement outlaws the production, stockpiling, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, providing a tool for all nations to pursue the stigmatisation and elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty sets out a pathway for nuclear-armed nations to negotiate a time-bound and verifiable process for the destruction of their stockpiles.

As tensions seen this last week between the United States and Iran continue, ICAN Australia calls for the following:

  1. Australia must sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
  2. Australia must develop a defence policy that does not include the nuclear weapons of the United States or any other nuclear armed allies;
  3. Australian military personnel should be withdrawn from theatres of war or conflict zones where threats of nuclear weapon use have been made.

In the words of former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “there are no right hands for the wrong weapons.”


– Dr Margie Beavis and Dr Ruth Mitchell

Co-Chairs, ICAN Australia


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