MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA140

17 November 1998

Nuclear Regime Strengthened at UN

I warmly welcome the outcomes achieved at the First (Disarmament and International Security) Committee of the 53rd UN General Assembly which concluded in New York on Friday.

One of the most important and challenging sessions of recent times, the Committee met this year against the backdrop of the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan which had profoundly challenged the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. The cornerstone of that regime is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which is central to the security of Australia and its 180-odd other signatory countries.

In addition, the South Asian tests violated the anti-testing norm embodied in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Australia championed the adoption at the CTBT at UNGA 50 in 1996.

The Committee adopted resolutions which strongly deplored the South Asian tests, urged India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the CTBT, and reaffirmed the centrality of the NPT to the elimination of nuclear weapons. The new negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) - which will see a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes - were also endorsed as the next multilateral measure in support of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

The success of these resolutions attests to the continuing commitment of the international community to the nuclear security norms which have been built up over the past 50 years. Australia played a leading role in securing these outcomes, co-sponsoring and campaigning for all of the above resolutions.

Australia will now work to give practical effect to these outcomes by continuing its active role in the Preparatory Committee of the CTBT Organisation, in the NPT 2000 Review Process and in the FMCT negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament next year.

 

For further information: 

Ministerial - Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500 or
Departmental - Tony Melville/Kirk Coningham (02) 62611555


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