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Thursday, 26 March 1987
Page: 1391

Senator ZAKHAROV —Can the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the Senate of the progress which has been made towards the signing and ratification by the Pacific nations of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty, known as the Treaty of Rarotonga, and the signing of its protocols by the nuclear powers?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Treaty of Rarotonga entered into force when Australia deposited its instrument of ratification in Suva on 11 December 1986. Eight countries-Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, New Zealand, Niue, Tuvalu and Western Samoa-have now ratified the Treaty. Two countries-Papua New Guinea and Nauru-have signed but not yet ratified the Treaty. The Soviet Union and China have signed protocols 2 and 3 to the Treaty. The Government, however, is seeking to clarify aspects of the Soviet Union's statement at the time of its signature of the protocols. The other nuclear weapon states-Britain, the United States and France-have declined to sign the protocols to the Treaty. Britain, however, has indicated that it will abide by the requirements of the Treaty. The US and British decisions diminish neither the strength, in the Government's view, of South Pacific countries' concerns on nuclear issues nor the force of the mutual obligations assumed by parties to the Treaty. Australia certainly hopes that the remaining members of the South Pacific Forum will, in due course, become parties to the Treaty.