• Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size
Home Articles Flashpoints Julie B Asked to Endorse Ban Treaty after ICAN Nobel

Julie B Asked to Endorse Ban Treaty after ICAN Nobel

E-mail Print PDF
 TUES 10 OCT 2017



In a letter from Australia's oldest nuclear disarmament organization, People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND) NSW, a Surry- Hills based group, and the Human Survival Project, Julie Bishop and Malcolm Turnbull have been asked to turn 180 degrees on Australia's nuclear disarmament policy in the light of the ICAN nobel prize, and sign, ratify, and encourage others to sign and ratify, the Treaty for the prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The letter, from PNDs UN nuclear disarmament campaigner John Hallam cites the perilous situation in which the world now finds itself after decades of thinking nuclear weapons were no longer an issue, now finding that the likelihood of their use is as great as it has ever been.

It urges the Australian Government to 'see the light' on nuclear abolition, and dismisses arguments that the prohibition treaty somehow 'undermines' other processes – indeed it urges the Australian Government also to push those other processes as complimentary to not contradictory to, the prohibition treaty.

The Government is urged in particular to press for measures to reduce the risk of nuclear war. It is urged to make use of the upcoming September 2018 High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.

John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament/Human Survival Project
UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


By email to other senators and to DFAT

Dear Foreign Minister Julie Bishop,

We are writing to express our delight that ICAN has been given the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on promoting the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use and for bringing to reality the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

We trust the Government is equally delighted that an Australian-founded NGO has made such a magnificent impact on global politics, and that it will be quick to seek ICAN's advice (and for that matter the advice of other nuclear disarmament groups such as ourselves) on matters to do with nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

The Nobel Committee's decision clearly reflects:

--The alarm that many if not most international observers feel over the now rapidly increasing risk of both regional (DPRK vs US) and indeed global (US vs Russia or China) – thermonuclear war. The erratic behavior and statements from the current US President are prompting many in the US itself to ask if he should be allowed to be in the position in which he, and he alone, determines if the US will launch up to 1000 nuclear warheads in a less than 10 minute timeframe. They have prompted the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to move the hands of the iconic 'Doomsday Clock' to 2 and a half minutes to midnight. By now I am sure they would move closer, but the clock is running out of space.

--The concomitant increasing urgency many feel over the need to completely eliminate all nuclear weapons.

--An endorsement of the Prohibition Treaty by expert opinion.

The raising of the profile of the issue of catastrophic consequences, as also the negotiation of the Prohibition Treaty itself came from a large number of groups including PND and the Human Survival Project, who had critical inputs notably into the agenda of the Vienna conference, and into some of the language of the Treaty. We will continue to work on issues related to nuclear risks, which have now risen terrifyingly.

The decision of the Nobel Committee illustrates that these issues have now risen right to the top of the international agenda.

The Australian Government should take its cue from the wisdom of the Nobel Committee. It should:

--Immediately reverse its decision to oppose the Prohibition Treaty. The arguments that it repeats over and over again to oppose the treaty do not add up. The Treaty does not 'undermine' the NPT but reinforces it and makes it meaningful. The Treaty does not affect negatively ANY other step by step process for reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons: Rather it demands that such steps take place as a matter of the utmost urgency. Finally it does not lower nonproliferation standards – governments that wish to adopt the Additional protocol will do so. The Government should reverse its ill-advised opposition to the prohibition treaty and embrace it fully, and urge others to do likewise.

--If the Government is serious about the 'step by step' 'progressive' disarmament agenda, it should make much more high-profile and much more aggressive efforts to implement that agenda. In doing so it will reinforce, not undermine, both the NPT and the Prohibition Treaty, and restore a measure of its own credibility with the 'progressive' agenda.

--In particular the Government should treat the issue of Nuclear Risk Reduction as the existential issue that it is. This includes both reducing operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems so that nuclear war coming from a tweet is not longer the terrifying possibility that it now is, 'No-First use' (which would do the same thing), and improved or restored military-to-military communication.

These issues are likely to be debated – and certainly SHOULD be debated – at the Sept 2018 High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament which we urge the Government to attend at the highest level. This would be a perfect forum in which to discuss ways to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war. It would also be a perfect venue in which the Government could announce that it has at last seen the light on the Prohibition Treaty. Failing that, the Australian government must at the very least make real progress on risk reduction and other critical elements of the 'progressive' agenda. Stasis, stalemate or deadlock must not be allowed to be an outcome.

The Nobel for ICAN is a sunbeam in a scene that is increasingly apocalyptic. The issues involved go beyond mere short-term 'national interest' to the interest that humans and other living things have in not being incinerated and not having to contend with a possible 'nuclear winter'.We urge the Government to make use of that sunbeam.

John Hallam
UN Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner,
People for Nuclear Disarmament
Human Survival Project

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it