24 February 2004

The Threat of Proliferation: Global Resolve and Australian Action

We will also be working to strengthen key treaties and mechanisms. We will work to have the Additional Protocol become the global safeguards standard, so the IAEA is better equipped to uncover the nuclear cheats. We want a stronger Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran's nuclear program has generated renewed attention to NPT's guarantee of access to peaceful nuclear energy. This guarantee carries with it unacceptable risk.

In our view is NPT parties must look again at this issue. We need to be assured that the NPT's peaceful nuclear energy provisions are not abused to acquire the technical basis for a nuclear weapons program. No rights under the NPT can justify actions that are prejudicial to the Treaty's paramount non-proliferation objectives.

Australia will intensify efforts with other countries to ensure exports of the most sensitive nuclear technologies cannot contribute to weapons programs. One option would be a Code of Conduct for Nuclear Trade and Supply, through which all states could demonstrate commitment to effective national controls on sensitive nuclear exports.

Finally, it is time too for the United Nations Security Council to take a firm stand on proliferation. The Security Council should do more to promote and defend WMD non-proliferation standards. The world needs a mandatory Chapter VII resolution on counter-proliferation. I believe there should be a UN Security Council Resolution on WMD non-proliferation which would require states to criminalise proliferation, enact strict export controls, and secure sensitive materials.

In fairness to the foreign minister, the SMH article reporting this speech gets it wrong in a couple of places. Downer did not explicitly call for the US to have unilateral authority to take enforcement action against proliferators. However, hat he did say rather confirms that Iraq may not have been a 100% terrific idea.

As it happens I think a Chapter VII resolution on proliferation and disarmament would be a very good idea. The chance of it passing the UN security council without explicit language requiring the council's consent to enforcement is about as good as the chance of an ice cream dropped on bitumen in Sydney the last few days surviving for any length of time.

The shakiness of the WMD intelligence, and the willingness of the foreign minister and others to gild the lily, will only ensure that his proliferation ideas get rejected as dangerously close to authorising future pre-emptive wars.

Hear Ahmed Chalabi yesterday:

As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants.

I understand that falling on his sword is unlikely to involve either resigning from the IGC or withdrawing from the US$400 million he and associated companies are making from the occupation.

The UN is unlikely to want itself to be Chalabied a second time.

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