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Notice given 12 March 2003

1256  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister for Defence—

(1) Is the Minister aware of the United States of America (US) draft 2004 Defense Authorization Bill, which, according to the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 March 2003, was to be sent to Congress in the week beginning 9 March 2003.

(2) Has the US Administration provided Australia with a copy of the draft bill.

(3) Is it the case that the bill proposes to lift the ban on the development of nuclear weapons with an explosive yield of up to 5 kilo tonnes.

(4) Can the Minister confirm that this is about one-third the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

(5) Does the Government agree that if the bill is passed, and these weapons are developed, the move could set off a global arms race; if so, what advice has the Australian Government provided to the US Administration in relation to these weapons.

(6) Has the Government inquired of the US Administration the purposes to which such weapons would be put.

(7) Does the Government agree with speculation that they will be used to eliminate nuclear, chemical and biological weapons produced by nations such as Iraq, North Korea and Iran.

(8) Is the Government satisfied from the most recent report by the Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, Dr Blix, that it is unlikely that Iraq has underground bunkers storing chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.