MEDIA RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
AUSTRALIA

D55

2 June 1998

AUSTRALIA'S STATEMENT TO THE CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT

Following is the text of a statement delivered on 2 June 1998 to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva by the Australian Permanent Representative, Mr John Campbell. The text of the joint statement referred to in Ambassador Campbell's remarks will be found at the end of the text.

Mr President,

Some two weeks ago Australia took the floor in this forum to express its resolute opposition to any nuclear testing by any state, and its profound disappointment with, and condemnation of, the nuclear tests conducted by India.

The Australian government acted swiftly and decisively to register its concern with the Indian government's actions, to announce a series of measures Australia had taken in response to those actions and to send a message to other nations with possible nuclear aspirations about the consequences of such action.

Subsequent events in South Asia provide cause for great alarm. The Australian Government strongly condemns Pakistan's nuclear tests. They were conducted despite the strong international condemnation of India's tests and despite pleas for restraint from Australia and other governments.

Pakistan's decision to ignore the inevitable implications of its actions for global and regional security reveals that its professed desire to end the nuclear weapons era, like that of the government of India, is no more than a deception.

A South Asian arms race can only exacerbate existing regional tensions and have serious implications for global security arrangements. The direct threats presented by recent tests to the credibility and existence if the international regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons must cease immediately.

The South Asian nuclear tests and the urgent need to repair the potential damage of this to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and to regional and international peace and security, has given the commencement of negotiations for a fissile material cut-off treaty an even greater urgency and relevance for the international community. For Australia and others with an interest in reducing South Asian regional tension and proliferation pressures, a fissile material cut-off treaty would provide a measure of transparency about the nuclear capabilities and intentions of India and Pakistan, which would act as a confidence-building measure between these two states and for others within their strategic environment.

As set out in the joint statement read out at the beginning of this plenary session by New Zealand Ambassador Pearson, a statement with which Australia readily associates itself, we call upon India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without conditions, accede to the nuclear non proliferation treaty, and participate in negotiations in this conference to achieve a fissile material cut-off treaty.

The international community cannot let India and Pakistan's actions pass without a strong and substantive response. I have already outlined in my statement of 14 May the measures we have taken in response to Indian testing.

Australia decided on 29 May to take the following bilateral measures in response to the test conducted by Pakistan:

  • Recall for consultations our High Commissioner in Islamabad
  • Suspend bilateral defence relations
  • Suspend non-humanitarian aid
  • Suspend ministerial and senior official visits and
  • Terminate the visit of the Pakistani parliamentary delegation in Australia at the time of the tests.

Mr President,

I will also seek to have the official statements made by my Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in response to Pakistan's nuclear tests circulated as official documents of the conference.

Mr President,

I reiterate Australia's deep disappointment over, and condemnation of, the ill-advised course of action chosen by both India and Pakistan. We urge them to cease tests and desist from further destabilising actions such as the development and testing of nuclear weapon delivery systems. We urge other states to continue vigorously to encourage India and Pakistan to join the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and to pursue the objective of a nuclear weapon free world.

statement ends.

The text of the joint statement referred to in Ambassador Campbell's remarks is as follows.

The statement was subsequently subscribed to by the countries listed.

"The following member states and observers of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva; Australia, New Zealand, U.S., U.K., Netherlands, Austria, Finland, Ukraine, Canada, Greece, Slovakia, Hungary, Sweden, Belarus, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Norway, Philippines, Denmark, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Japan, Malta, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, France, China, Turkey, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Chile, Ireland, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina are alarmed and deeply concerned at nuclear testing by India and Pakistan.

They condemn all nuclear testing and consider such acts to be contrary to the international consensus which bans the testing of nuclear weapons and other explosive devices. The tests undertaken by India, and Pakistan's decision to respond with its own test, blatantly undermine the international regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The actions of India and Pakistan threaten and undermine the process of disarmament and the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether.

The testing of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan is totally irreconcilable with claims by both countries that they are committed to nuclear disarmament.

International security will not be enhanced by provocative and dangerous acts. Nor will regional or global security be improved or maintained by indulging in competitive manoeuvres to further develop nuclear capability and delivery systems. The approach that India and Pakistan seem determined to pursue belongs to a by-gone age.

Peace in the Asian region is a global concern. Tensions will only be resolved permanently through constructive dialogue and negotiation.

It is now crucial that India and Pakistan announce immediately a cessation of all further testing of these weapons, renounce their nuclear weapons programs and sign and ratify, unconditionally, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This is a matter of urgency essential for generating the confidence necessary for security differences to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation.

We also call on India and Pakistan to accede without delay to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to join all states in ensuring the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to engage in negotiations to conclude a ban on the production of fissile material. These are further essential steps that should be taken in the process of working collectively and constructively towards eliminating nuclear weapons.

This is a moment for all countries to exercise calm and maximum restraint. We call on India and Pakistan to immediately abandon the course of action they are pursuing and to settle their security concerns and differences trough political engagement. Such an approach will have the full support of the international community as it strives toward nuclear disarmament."