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Thursday, 26 May 1983
Page: 1108

Question No. 140


Dr Charlesworth asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 12 May 1983:

Does the Government support the policy, approved on 5 May 1983 by the Congress of the United States of America, of a US/Soviet freeze on nuclear weapons; if so , will the Government indicate its support for such a freeze to President Reagan .


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The United States House of Representatives on 4 May passed a resolution by a vote 278-149 calling on the President to negotiate 'a mutual and verifiable freeze and reductions in nuclear weapons' with the freeze to be revoked if it were not followed by negotiated arms reductions 'within a reasonable, specified period of time'. It is understood that this proposal is still to be considered by the United States Senate.

In principle the Government is attracted to the concept of a nuclear freeze as a means of achieving reductions of nuclear forces. In considering the case for a nuclear freeze however it is important that the result be mutually agreed and verifiable. A freeze at excessively high levels of armaments which did not look forward to reductions in those levels would be likely to perpetuate anxiety and uncertainty about risks of nuclear war. A freeze which gave advantage to one side would not contribute to a stable peace.

The Government will make known its approach on arms control and disarmament questions to the United States Government during the visit to Washington by the Prime Minister in June. There will be a further opportunity for high level consultations with the United States during the ANZUS Council meeting in Washington in July.