MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA76
14 August 1996

REPORT OF THE CANBERRA COMMISSION ON THE ELIMINATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The Australian Government is pleased to have received the report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The report was presented to the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, in Sydney this morning, marking the conclusion of the Commission's mandate.

Before the March election, the Coalition made a commitment to support the completion of (he work of the Canberra Commission. The Government welcomed the opportunity to sponsor a major contribution to the international debate on nuclear disarmament. The issues involved are of the utmost significance for the peoples of the world.

I believe that the international debate on these issues has to be conducted on a realistic basis if it is to make a serious contribution to achieving the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons. I am pleased that the Commission has taken a practical and realistic approach to this important question. The report covers issues such as the verified destruction of nuclear weapons and weapons-grade material, the prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons to other slates, and prevention of the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists.

The report proposes a number of steps including the taking of nuclear forces off alert, an end to nuclear testing and further negotiations between the United States and Russia lo reduce their nuclear arsenals. The report also deals in considerable detail with the central issue of effective verification.

The Canberra Commission is an independent group of eminent persons. Although they come from all continents and include nationals of all nuclear weapon states, they do not represent any government.

The Australian Government will transmit the report to the General Assembly of the United Nations in September, and to the Conference on Disarmament at the beginning of its 1997 session in January.

On behalf of the Australian Government, I very much appreciate the time and energy the Commissioners devoted to their task Australia was pleased and privileged to assist them, and is pleased to publish the report of the Commission

For further information, contact Peter Collins on



The report of the Canberra Commission, and the executive summary are available on the Canberra Commission's home page on the lnternet (/cc/cchome.html)