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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 255


Senator TEAGUE(12.55) —Mr Deputy President, this, the first week of the 1987 sittings, seems an appropriate time to look back and reflect on the International Year of Peace and, in particular, on one contribution that was made to the International Year by members of this Parliament. I refer to the Parliamentary Disarmament Forum, which was organised by the Parliamentary Disarmament Group, in September of last year. The Forum involved delegations from the five nuclear armed nations-Britain, France, China, the United States of America and the Soviet Union-coming before honourable members and senators to explain the attitudes of their governments to disarmament and arms control. The delegations were headed by these nations' ambassadors to Australia and included arms control experts who were flown to Australia for the Forum by their respective governments. Should there ever be a global nuclear war it would be the weapons contained in the arsenals of these countries that would devastate the earth.

I think it was an extremely valuable exercise for parliamentarians to hear and assess the presentations that were made by the representatives of these countries at the Forum. Each delegation took a different approach in its presentation. We had five different presentations, five different views, on such vital questions as why the world is packed full of nuclear weapons and why there has been so little progress in making new arms control agreements. The presentations made by the five delegations contained statements that were often crisply honest. I refer in particular to that of the delegation from France. But they also contained statements that simply tipped out tired propaganda. In particular, the approach by the Soviet delegation was deeply disappointing. For example, we were told by one Soviet delegate:

The Soviet Union is not developing something similar to SDI. On the contrary, we have been saying that if we were forced to do something about this system or this kind of weaponry, we will certainly be forced to do something.

This is an extraordinary statement for an arms control expert to make when it is a well established fact that, for instance, the Soviet Union has been conducting laser experiments and tests against satellites; that much of the American research, for example on particle beams, is parallel to what the Soviet Union was doing in the 1960s and 1970s. Also during the Forum, another Soviet delegate, Mr Federov, said:

The Soviet Union does not have any naval base or any other military facility in Cam Ranh Bay or any other port in Vietnam.

That statement was subsequently repeated in a letter sent to the Australian by Mr Valerie Zemskov, the Minister-Counsellor of the Soviet Embassy in Canberra, which stated outright that there was no Soviet military base in Vietnam. This outrageous claim is all the more serious and requires careful evaluation because of its being also directly reflected here in the Senate by Senator Gareth Evans, in his capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence, when unconvincingly answering questions concerning Cam Ranh Bay. In Question Time last October, Senator Evans, representing the Minister for Defence, said:

The Government has no evidence that the Soviet Union has deployed weapon systems in Vietnam which directly endanger Australia.

Senator Evans was replying to a question concerning a Liberal Party publication on peace issues. That publication, Living in a Nuclear World, said that the Soviet Union had deployed weapon systems in Vietnam which directly endangered Australia. Senator Evans said this reference was `just another rerun of some outdated theories and neuroses which do not deserve wider currency'. I contested Senator Evans statements at that time and pointed out that they were in fact also directly contrary to answers given to the Parliament by Mr Beazley, the Minister for Defence. It was interesting to see that yesterday the Minister took on notice a question regarding Cam Ranh Bay. What a change to the ready responses we had from him in October! I wonder whether the Minister, in the light particularly of intelligence recently released by the United States of America, is now prepared to admit that he was wrong. This material, including high resolution photographs of Cam Ranh Bay and its airfield that were taken by United States satellites, is conclusive proof of not only the existence of the base but also the presence of Soviet nuclear missile-carrying aircraft and submarines. In fact, the widely held claim that this base is the largest military facility outside the Soviet Union has now been more than demonstrated. The photographs, which have been splashed across the front pages of the Press in the past few days here in Australia, confirm the permanent deployment of one squadron of the latest MiG 23 Flogger fighters and a squadron each of Bear and Badger long-range bombers.

As has been pointed out by the defence editor of the Australian, Peter Young, some of these bombers are deployed as strike bombers and are armed with long-range cruise missiles. They are capable of reaching Australian cities. One satellite photograph of Cam Ranh Bay shows the presence of three submarines, one of which has been identified as a 6,200 tonne Echo 2 class cruise-missile submarine. The Australian said that since the Americans had left in 1975 the number of piers at the base had grown from two to seven-these are clearly visible in the satellite photographs-and that there was evidence of new warehouses, fuel and other support facilities and ammunition dumps, which were believed to contain the latest cruise and surface-to-surface missiles. The Australian also published this month, on 10 February, an interview with the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Pacific fleet, Admiral James Lyons. Admiral Lyons confirmed the existence of Soviet-built warehouses, fuel and ammunition dumps, anti-aircraft missile batteries and an electronic warfare intelligence monitoring station. He also warned of the buildup of Soviet naval facilities at the Kampuchean port of Kompong Son. The information published in the Australian and other newspapers directly and convincingly refutes the statements regarding Cam Ranh Bay that were made to the Parliamentary Disarmament Forum by the delegation from the Soviet Union. It is depressing for me, as the co-ordinator of that Forum, to have to say now to the Senate that such a blatantly false claim was made by the Soviet delegation in this Parliament House in this genuine peace forum in front of the representatives of all political parties in Australia, in the International Year of Peace.

I should underline that the Soviet delegation came expressly from Moscow to the Forum in Canberra and was directly appointed by and represented, the Soviet Government. The conclusion that this false claim was made by the Soviet delegation in these circumstances is a grave reflection on the credibility and intentions of the Soviet Union. It is also pretty poor propaganda. This Parliament must be above propaganda and must expose propaganda that comes from any quarter. I make the observation in this case that this whole episode flies in the face of General Secretary Gorbachev's own more recent and outspoken statements that the Soviet Union must reject lies and go back on unsound Soviet procedures and rhetoric of recent years. I am happy also to make the observation that at no stage has the Soviet Ambassador to Australia, Dr Samoteikin, ever identified himself with these objectionable Cam Ranh Bay claims, whether by the delegation from Moscow or by Mr Zemskov. In this whole episode I am reminded of the clear remarks made at the Parliamentary Disarmament Forum by the British High Commissioner, Sir John Leahy:

Our approach to disarmament is essentially down to earth. We seek real progress. To use an old English expression, `Fine words butter no parsnips'.

Disarmament and arms control, in our view, can only be really brought about by painstaking, detailed and patient negotiations.

I have to say that I fear `the Greeks', especially when they bring gifts. That, I'm afraid, is our approach . . . I am bound to say that we judge the intentions of others not by what they say half as much as by what they do.

I return to the question of the Soviet denial of the presence of the base, not only in Mr Zemskov's letter but also at the Parliamentary Disarmament Forum. The Soviet delegation made a number of other denials that were then open to question and now must be viewed with doubt. Let me cite an example: One delegate told the Forum that with regard to Soviet fishing deals with South Pacific nations the Soviet Union had:

no ambitions for some strategic military presence here. All those deals we have with those small island states are of a purely commercial character. To put it bluntly, we need fish, they need money.

Here is a second example. In relation to SDI, the Americans have claimed that the Krasnoyarks radar complex in the central Asian part of the Soviet Union is directly involved in anti-missile defence and has been built in direct contravention of the 1972 ABM Treaty, yet the Soviet delegation told the Forum that the radar `will deal only with searching for peaceful satellites for exploration of outer space . . . It could not be used for military purposes.' Thirdly, the delegation claimed that NATO had more men under arms than did the Warsaw Pact nations. This is directly contrary to the view held by most countries. It is my conclusion then that, in the light of so much contrary evidence on each of these claims and in the light of this episode regarding Cam Ranh Bay, we must doubt each and every one of them, yet the Soviet delegation spoke of the need for a new and fresh approach to be made in East-West relationships. It is a pity, however, that the Soviet delegation and the government that it represents fails to adopt an honest and open approach when dealing with the West and with a forum within this Parliament.

How can they expect us to trust them when they make a presentation before members of this Parliament which, quite frankly, contains outright lies? We would all like to see the barriers between East and West broken down. We would all like to see mistrust and suspicion put aside. We would all like to see a positive building on the more recent affirmations of General Secretary Gorbachev, but until one can see evidence that there really is a fresh approach on the part of the Soviet Union, one cannot be optimistic and hold out real hope for any easing of the tensions that now exist between the super-powers and their allies. I urge the Soviet Union to adopt the approach professed by it at the Forum and also the more recent emphases expressed by General Secretary Gorbachev. Finally, I ask Senator Evans and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence, when the Government answers the question about Cam Ranh Bay put by my colleague in the Senate to Senator Evans yesterday-to which we expect an early response-to address themselves to these remarks.