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FOREIGN AFFAIRS—NUCLEAR WEAPON SYSTEMS—COLONEL STANISLAV PETROV

Senator Allison amended general business notice of motion no. 895 by leave and, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—That the Senate—

 (a) recalls the incident that took place in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) at Serpukhov-15 on 26 September 1983 at 12.30 pm Moscow time, and the role of Colonel Stanislav Petrov in this incident;

 (b) notes:

  (i) that the Serpukhov-15 incident, in which a newly installed Soviet surveillance system reported that the United States of America (US) had launched nuclear missiles at the USSR, is considered by many analysts to have been the closest the world has ever come to nuclear war,

  (ii) that the megatonnage that was likely to have been used at that time was between 30 and 60 times the amount required to produce a nuclear winter, and that the number of nuclear weapons that would have been launched would have been enough to end civilisation and kill most living things,

  (iii) the role played by Colonel Petrov in refraining from launching a number of thousands of warheads at the US in retaliation and in pressing his superiors to consider the report a false alarm,

  (iv) that the Canberra Commission of 1996 recommended that strategic nuclear weapons be taken off `Launch on Warning' status, and

  (v) the resolution of the European Parliament of 11 November 1999, and the Senate's own resolutions as well as repeated calls to lower the alert status of strategic nuclear weapons made by the Non-Aligned Movement and the New Agenda Coalition that have been passed year after year by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly;


 (b) offers its congratulations to Colonel Petrov for being presented with the World Citizen Award on Friday, 21 May 2004, in recognition of his actions; and

 (c) urges the Government to give support to measures aimed at lowering the readiness to launch nuclear weapon systems and to support such measures on the floor of the UN General Assembly.

Question put and passed.