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Democrats step up disarmament push in New York.



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Australian Democrats Press Releases

Senator Lyn Allison Parliamentary Leader and Democrats Senator for Victoria

Dated: 03 May 2005

Press Release Number: 05/214 Portfolio: Foreign Affairs Related: Defence & Veterans

Democrats Step Up Disarmament Push in New York

In New York for the 5-year Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review, the Leader of the Australian Democrats described Mr Downer's opening speech as an embarrassing sop to the nuclear weapons powers.

Democrats Leader and nuclear spokesperson, Senator Lyn Allison said Australia was once a strong voice for nuclear disarmament but is now there to do the Bush Administration's bidding.

"It is ludicrous that Minister Downer should claim the greatest threats to the NPT are Al Qaeda and North Korea and Iran's possible development of weapons grade material, while the US and Russia have between them 28,000 nuclear weapons (96% of the world's arsenal), Senator Allison said.

"There are almost as many nuclear missiles now as there were when the NPT came into force and the US has 2000 on alert which can be triggered within minutes of the President's say-so."

"Mr Downer's contribution showed no sign of Australia pushing for the nuclear powers to live up to their commitments, no call for systematic, progressive and practical steps to achieve the total and irreversible destruction of these dangerous weapons, as agreed at the 2000 Review. Neither was there any mention by Australia or the US of the fact that the Bush Administration has new nuclear weapons on the drawing board."

Senator Allison said Australia has again alienated fellow non-nuclear weapons states and turned its back on efforts by the New Agenda Coalition and the Middle Powers Initiatives.

"Mr Downer even refused to attend the non-nuclear weapons states' Mexico conference to discuss nuclear weapon free zones on the spurious grounds that the nuclear powers did not have equal standing.

"This omission taken in the context of their active support of uranium mining and export, means Australia is now squarely part of the problem regarding nuclear weapons proliferation, rather than a voice for peace and weapons reductions.

"We call on the Australian Government to show greater leadership in pressing for the verifiable, irreversible global elimination of nuclear weapons, for Israel, India and Pakistan to be brought into the NPT and for better systems of accounting for fissile material.

"We join other countries in urging Mr Downer to tell weapons states to accept that the nuclear weapons are a provocation not a deterrent and to plug for annual meetings of the states parties so they can respond more quickly to threats to the NPT," Senator Allison concluded.