US-Iran tensions: Australia must reject nuclear weapons

Jan 10, 2020

Open threats to use and develop nuclear weapons have again hit the headlines this week. As tensions escalate, so does the risk of nuclear conflict. 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 any circumstances.

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

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, and 34 have ratified it. Once the Treaty acquires 50 ratifications it will enter into force.

The Treaty provides a pathway for nuclear-armed nations to join and negotiate a time-bound and verifiable process for the destruction of their stockpiles. It is the only such internationally agreed pathway. This landmark agreement provides the best available tool for all nations to pursue the
stigmatisation, prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

As tensions between the United States and Iran have flared, 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; precludes any
    use of nuclear weapons on Australia’s behalf; and ends Australian assistance in preparations for possible use of (US) nuclear weapons;
  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 Australian military personnel should be withdrawn from theatres of war or conflict zones where threats of nuclear weapon use have been made.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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