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Statement on Chinese nuclear tests

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Press Statement, E. G. Whitlam, 27 June 1973

The Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Gough Whitlam, commented today on reports that China had conducted another atmospheric nuclear test. He said that the Australian Government viewed with deep concern the hazards created for all humanity through pollution of the atmosphere and radioactive fallout.

He recalled that an Australian protest about the continuation of Chinese nuclear weapons tests had been conveyed to the Chinese Foreign Minister on 10 April, and the Minister for Overseas Trade, Dr Cairns, had also explained Australia’s views in a discussion with the Chinese Premier during his recent visit to Peking.

The Prime Minister said that the Australian Government had consistently

opposed nuclear weapons testing by all countries, and was taking steps in the International Court of Justice to restrain France from conducting tests in the Pacific. On 22 June the Court had indicated provisional measures in these pro­ ceedings, which provided that the French Government should avoid nuclear tests causing the deposit of radioactive fallout on Australian territory.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that China did not accept the jurisdiction of the Court, and was not a party to the 1928 General Act for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes. He nevertheless considered that the Chinese Government, as well as France, had a clear obligation towards the international community to

prevent the dangers of environmental pollution. Mr Whitlam said he was instructing the Australian Ambassador in Peking to make a further protest to the Chinese authorities and call on them to halt atmospheric tests and cooperate with other nations in moves for the ending of all nuclear testing.