PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECT
NAYARIT CONFERENCE ON HUMANITARIAN CONSEQUENCES OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS USE
Foreign Affairs Minister,
6273-4112, 6277-8497, 08-9388-0299 6261-3111
Foreign Affairs Min Tanya Plibersek
DFAT officers by email
Dear Foreign Minister Julie Bishop,
The Human Survival Project (HSP) is once again writing to you about
nuclear disarmament and the Nayarit Conference in Mexico,
The HSP has previously written to you urging you (and other Foreign
Ministers worldwide), to prioritise nuclear disarmament as a Human
That nuclear disarmament might be a priority for human survival is hardly a new idea, having first achieved prominence in the Einstein-Russell Manifesto of 1955.
It has been frequently used as 'boilerplate' language – language
routinely inserted but often taken for granted to be true and not
much examined – in diplomatic statements in the UN on nuclear
disarmament for decades, especially in statements coming from the NAM
bloc, but also from New Agenda, and even on occasion from Australia
itself, notably in our joint resolution 'renewed determination' with
Japan. It even achieves a passing nod in Australia's own joint
statement, on catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear
weapons use, signed by 17 governments.
It has been a consistent component of the various statements on
catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use originating with the
Swiss, NZ, South African, and Norwegian Governments and is prominent
in the current iteration, signed by 125 governments that Australia
has thus far, misguidedly in our view, failed to sign.
Australia should immediately sign the 125 nation joint declaration without in any way weakening it. The difficulties in implementation and engagement of the nuclear weapons states highlighted by the
Australian statement are not reasons not to sign onto the statement
of the 125 governments, though they are problems that need to be –
and can be – addressed.
The suggestion that large scale use of nuclear weapons remains a
potentially civilisation – ending, and conceivably a species –
ending, event, is soundly based in climate science. The most recent
research suggests that even a 'small' nuclear exchange involving
India and Pakistan and no more than 100 Hiroshima – sized warheads,
would, via the burning of firestorms in large cities, lead to global
climatic consequences in which up to 2 billion people could perish
from nuclear – winter induced famine.
The destruction of global communications, cyberspace and financial
infrastructure – (which would cause the global financial system
literally to disappear) – could be done with as few as half a dozen
large nuclear explosions in space. (It could also be achieved in
completely non-nuclear ways and by natural phenomena such as solar
The US and Russia maintain up to 1000 warheads each on high alert,
launch-able in minutes and even seconds. The resolution on
Operational Readiness of Nuclear Weapon Systems, which Australia
votes for, (last adopted 162-4) as well as at least three other UNGA
resolutions, ask that those warheads be taken OFF high alert. Use of
those arsenals would induce an immediate body count that could exceed
a billion, and cause the coldest conditions since the last ice –
age for at least a decade.
It is therefore not an exaggeration to characterise nuclear disarmament as a 'survival priority'.
However, IF nuclear disarmament really is taken to be a survival priority, this has clear policy implications.
If indeed, nuclear disarmament is taken to be a human survival priority it very properly then trumps absolutely and unambiguously, all lesser considerations, including those that are normally considered to be
national security considerations of the very highest order. Indeed,
it then becomes itself, the very highest priority national (and
global) security consideration, and correctly pushes out all other
This is not the way we are used to think about nuclear disarmament, but it is in fact the only truly rational way to think about it. Nuclear disarmament is NOT something that might be 'nice' someday when other more pressing security priorities allow us to give it attention. It is an immediate and pressing human survival priority, that must be given the priority appropriate to its real importance, and yes, that overrides lesser considerations.
IfAustralia and other governments are able to go to Nayarit with this at the top of our minds, (and a number of governments are arguably already doing this), then progress to the elimination of nuclear weapons on a timely basis will take place.
If governments go there intending to safeguard strictly national or bloc security interests and do not prioritise global survival above those, then nuclear weapons will remain until computer error,
miscalculation, or madness destroys both civilisation and much else
It would be not at all helpful for Australia to go to Nayarit,
prioritising for example, an extended deterrence relationship with an
ally. If we are to prioritise human survival as it should be
prioritised, above all other security considerations, it must indeed
truly be prioritised above all other security considerations and must
itself become the very highest national security consideration. It
must trump all lesser priorities.
Australia must prioritise nuclear disarmament as a human survival priority. Our diplomacy should reflect that priority. We should chart with like-minded other Governments such as Switzerland and NZ, Norway, Mexico, and SA, a path to the total and unequivocal elimination of nuclear weapons by whatever means necessary, and work with ALL the many other governments that share that priority.
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project
Judy Blyth, Perth W.A.,
Marrickville Peace Group,