Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Bombs Away!

By Ian Lowe

Australia has been obstructing international efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear war.

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Those who are promoting the proposal for South Australia to store radioactive waste claim that Australia has a good record on nuclear issues. Certainly we are a respected member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and our regulatory agency, ARPANSA, is prominent in global committees setting guidelines for peaceful use of nuclear materials.

But the claim that Australia is respected has been disputed by some analysts. They say that our governments have not let proliferation concerns get in the way of uranium exports. For instance, the Abbott government approved the export of uranium to India even though it is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) and used peaceful Canadian technology to develop nuclear weapons.

Now former foreign minister Gareth Evans has written a stinging critique of how recent governments have opposed international moves to phase out nuclear weapons.

The NNPT was initially seen as a hopeful agreement. It required those countries that had nuclear weapons when the Treaty was negotiated to systematically disarm in return for the other nations of the world agreeing not to develop their own weapons. Progress has been disappointing, as the five countries that had nuclear weapons still hold significant stocks, and they have been joined in the nuclear club by India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, whose recent...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.