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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1998 Week 2 Hansard (19 May) . . Page.. 302 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Over 60 former generals, admirals and air chiefs worldwide, including representatives from all five declared nuclear weapons states, in 1996 called for urgent efforts to secure a nuclear-free world, noting:

The dangers of proliferation, terrorism and a new nuclear arms race render it necessary.

Yet, despite growing international condemnation of nuclear arsenals, and the end of the Cold War, the five major nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and China - still possess 36,000 nuclear weapons, 22,000 of which are active and operational.

I thoroughly condemn India's resumption of nuclear testing and welcome this motion. In recent times, India has flouted the international test ban negotiations. In 1996, at the negotiations for the comprehensive test ban treaty, India said they would not forgo the nuclear option unless there was a commitment by all the nuclear weapons states to a timetable for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

I believe this debate does need to be broadened. If this Assembly is concerned enough about Indian testing to debate this motion, we cannot focus solely on India; we need to keep our eye firmly on the bigger picture. While international condemnation of India is a necessary response to this testing, the only solution is if the nuclear states move immediately to establish a timetable to eliminate their existing nuclear arsenals. I quote from Malcolm Booker's article in today's Canberra Times:

The only way to prevent further proliferation is for all five of the nuclear-weapons powers to proceed with the total elimination of their own weapons. While they keep them it is inevitable that others will claim the same right.

Mr Speaker, it is not enough just to support other countries in condemning India's actions, when many of these countries are themselves involved in testing. Of the 2,040 nuclear tests which have been conducted worldwide since 1945, the United States has conducted 1,030; the Soviet Union has conducted 715; and India has conducted six.

As far as I am concerned, one nuclear test is too many; so India's tests are deplorable and must be condemned. India's nuclear tests are particularly deplorable at a time when the economic, environmental and medical effects of nuclear weapons production are being increasingly recognised. However, it is not only India's nuclear tests which are wrong; all nuclear tests must be deplored. This includes subcritical tests, which, despite not being explosive tests, are still tests for nuclear development. They still use high-explosive and nuclear materials, including plutonium. The United States is currently carrying out these sorts of tests, and Russia and France have also announced an intention to carry out this sort of virtual nuclear testing.

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