Nuclear disarmament report masks a hidden agenda



Friends of the Earth today questioned the credibility of the Australian-led International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), which has today released its first report, ‘Eliminating Nuclear Threats’.

Friends of the Earth’s national nuclear campaigner Dr Jim Green said: “The report makes repeated reference to the three S’s – safeguards, security and safety. It makes no reference to the dollar signs that constitute a hidden agenda to the Commission’s work including avoiding making any recommendations which would in any way jeopardise the Australian uranium export industry – an industry which accounts for a paltry one-third of one percent of Australia’s export revenue. The report trivialises the proliferation risks associated with nuclear power programs even though daily news coverage of the programs in Iran and North Korea provide a constant reminder of the risks.

“Co-chaired by Australian Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi from Japan, the Commission is silent about Japan’s grossly irresponsible stockpiling of plutonium, the regional tensions arising from Japan’s plutonium program, and Australia’s complicity in Japan’s plutonium stockpiling.

“The report advocates new technologies ‘to avoid current forms of reprocessing altogether’ – so why not take immediate steps to reduce the risks of reprocessing and plutonium stockpiling rather than awaiting the development of new technologies? Kevin Rudd could announce tomorrow that he will no longer allow reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel produced from Australian uranium. Instead he waffles on about the fracturing of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime while doing nothing to address the problems.

“The ICNND got off to a bad start by giving the Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO) an advisory role. ASNO has a long track record of dishonest and unprofessional behaviour. Last year, ASNO misled the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties with false claims that safeguards would ensure peaceful use of Australian uranium in Russia – even though there hasn’t been a single IAEA inspection in Russia since 2001. Other ASNO lies include its claims that nuclear power does not present a weapons proliferation risk, that Australia sells uranium only to countries with ‘impeccable’ non-proliferation credentials, and that all Australian uranium is ‘fully accounted for’.

“If the Commission was serious about non-proliferation and disarmament, it would have recommended that:

* Australia and Japan both immediately renounce their reliance on the ‘extended deterrence’ of the US nuclear weapons ‘umbrella’ and take practical steps commensurate with that policy shift, e.g. prohibiting visits of US nuclear warships.

* Uranium exports should be prohibited to: countries in breach of their NPT disarmament obligations, including the five ‘declared’ weapons states; non-NPT countries including India; countries blocking progress on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the proposed Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty; and countries stockpiling plutonium, including Japan.

Dr Green concluded: “The Commission should have taken heed of the statements of physicist Victor Gilinsky, a former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists earlier this year. Gilinsky said: ‘We should support as much nuclear power as is consistent with international security; not as much security as the spread of nuclear power will allow.'”

Contact: Jim Green 0417 318368