Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Credit where credit's due

Australia’s Foreign Minister Alexander Downer made a statement on the 2nd May to the New York Forum on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons which demonstrates independent thinking, and a willingness to take on the United States.

Mr. Downer said:

We acknowledge progress in reducing nuclear arsenals, but expect further
steps by the nuclear weapon states. But we do not accept that movement on
nuclear disarmament should be a precondition for improvements to the
non-proliferation regime. Such an approach puts at risk the security benefit
all NPT parties derive from assurances that nuclear programs in non-nuclear
weapon states are peaceful.

Entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would serve the interests of all NPT parties. As coordinator of the next Article XIV conference, Australia will be striving for such an outcome.

Sure it is arcane, polite diplomat speak designed to send the average reader to sleep, but in the rarefied atmosphere of world politics it was excitement city, because Australia was taking the United States (and others), and the US’s Republican controlled Congress and Senate to task for wanting to have its cake and eat it to.

The Republicans position has always been to shilly-shally around ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. George Bush way back when he was Texas governor was agin it. Colin Powell said “We will not be asking for the Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty”, and John Bolton endorsed this.

The Republic position is essentially that they’ll just stonewall on this matter until it goes away. They want to maintain the flexibility of being able to test when they choose. As Australia points out (subtly though), the US’s desire to reduce the proliferation of Nuclear Weapons requires that they also play the game. The US can’t view itself as being above the rules or no-one else will feel inclined to play by them either.

There is an excellent treatment of this complex subject on Background Briefing and Tim Dunlop demonstrates how revisionist and manipulative this Republican government is when it views its self interest under attack.

The City surprises itself today as it gives a hearty pat on the back to Mr. Downer.

Independence of thought hey? Who’d of thought it?

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