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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 666


Mr CHARLES —I direct my question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Why has the present Government pursued the objective of a comprehensive test ban through international fora when the Leader of the Opposition implied in a question yesterday that in his view a comprehensive test ban would be unverifiable, could destabilise deterrence and would be a particular disadvantage to the West?


Mr HAYDEN —I noticed that the Leader of the Opposition yesterday made it patently clear that he thought a comprehensive test ban would be unverifiable, could destabilise deterrence and would be a particular disadvantage to the West. It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition supports himself with the courage of other people's convictions because he bases that on something he alleges somebody wrote and immediately adopts it. However, on 21 January 1979 before the Committee on Disarmament, the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, now Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock) said this:

Of the matters facing this committee, the elaboration of a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons testing in all environments is of primary importance and deserves the earliest attention. The United Nations General Assembly expressed in December its sincere hope that the negotiating powers would present a Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) agreement to the committee by the time it began its deliberations. It is to be regretted that this has not been possible.

He went on to say of a comprehensive test ban treaty that it:

. . . will be a significant milestone in arms control and disarmament efforts. It will be a barrier to both the spread of nuclear weapons and the expansion of existing nuclear arsenals. It will contribute to a greater level of confidence among states in all regions of the world.

However, yesterday the Leader of the Opposition was saying that it would be unverifiable, would destabilise deterrence and would be a particular disadvantage to the West. He has taken a 180-degree turn. It should be clearly understood that the proposals of the Labor Government in Geneva at the Committee on Disarmament are that there should be a mandate with a view to negotiating a comprehensive test ban treaty. We have adopted that formulation because we recognise that there are some technical obstacles in relation to establishing effective verification procedures with broad acceptability. We have accordingly proposed that there should be a study of those things. We have proposed that there should be an international seismic data network. So that the record will be clear as to what we are proposing, I will outline the key principles of our approach to the negotiation of a comprehensive test ban treaty. The Government's view is that a combination of verification techniques would be needed: Firstly, an international seismic data network using the latest scientific techniques, including so-called level II seismic data in graph form, known as wavelength data; secondly, so-called black boxes; thirdly, an international atmospheric monitoring network to detect clandestine atmospheric tests or radioactive leakage from clandestine underground tests; fourthly, on-site inspections-our preference here would be for continuous on-site monitoring by technical teams at suspected test sites; and fifthly, so-called national technical means. Combined with these verification measures we envisage a political structure to help ensure compliance with the comprehensive test ban. This would include an international management panel comprising technical experts to handle complaints at a technical level. There would also be a consultative committee comprising representatives of states parties to pronounce on the evidence of suspected violations. Of course, a role for the United Nations Security Council is also envisaged.

On the basis of present technical capabilities, a 100 per cent verification process technically would not be possible, but the sorts of procedures which I have outlined here would go a long way towards a level of verification effectiveness which we believe would be generally acceptable. In the circumstances, I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he return to the principles which were enunciated by him, in his 1979 speech.