Australia proposes to establish an International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament
The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced on June 9, 2008 in Kyoto of the establishment of a successor to the Canberra Commission. There are few details, but the effort will be led by former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.
Appended below are the relevant sections from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's speech:
I announce today that Australia proposes to establish an International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, to be co-chaired by former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans. The Commission will re-examine the Canberra Commission and the Tokyo Forum reports to see how far we have come, how much work remains, and develop a possible plan of action for the future. The Commission will report to a major international conference of experts in late 2009 that will be sponsored by Australia.
I look forward to discussing with Japan their participation in the work of this commission. Australia and Japan have also agreed to establish a high-level dialogue on non-proliferation and disarmament to advance this critical international debate. It is intended that the Commission and the subsequent conference will help pave the way for the NPT Review Conference in 2010. We cannot simply stand idly by and allow another Review Conference to achieve no progress - or worse to begin to disintegrate. The treaty is too important.
The goal of nuclear non-proliferation is too important. Even with these additional efforts, there is no guarantee of success. But that should not deter us from exerting every diplomatic effort. This is a view shared by people with unique experience in strategic policy. In the United States, former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defence Secretary William Perry, and former Chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee Sam Nunn said in an important article the Wall Street Journal in January:
"The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. . The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger."
Relevant to our deliberations here, this eminent group of Americans has suggested steps for the future. They have said we should:
- Strengthen the means of monitoring compliance with the NPT - which could be achieved through requiring all NPT signatories to adopt monitoring provisions designed by the IAEA;
- Develop an international system to manage the nuclear fuel cycle - given the growing interest in nuclear energy; and
- Adopt a process to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force.
It is time for a new approach - of which the revitalisation of the NPT and the IAEA is a critical part.