If one can destroy a whole city, potentially killing millions, and jeopardizing the natural environment and lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects. What will the spread of nuclear weapons do to the world? How can the international community combat the influence the potential spread of nuclear weapons? This is the topic I will be talking about today. Not many people will agree with my words.
But so far nuclear weapons have multiplied only vertically as the major nuclear powers have added to their collections. They have spread slowly across countries, and the pace is not likely to change much. Nuclear weapons will however spread, with 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Since rapid changes in global conditions can be unsettling, the slowness of the spread of nuclear weapons is fortunate.
Right now, more than 120 nations are trying to introduce a ban on nuclear weapons. A United Nations panel has now released a draft treaty. States who sign it would be prohibited from developing or manufacturing nuclear weapons. They would also have to get rid of any weapons they already own.
The treaty’s winners argue the spread of nuclear weapons is an existential threat to humankind and they say the woeful pace of global disarmament proves there is a compelling need for a new agreement that would exert moral pressure on states to disarm.
None of the nine nuclear powers including the US, Russia, China and the UK support the new treaty. Neither does Australia. The Federal Government has refused to take part in the treaty negotiations. First, Australia argues that the treaty ignores geopolitical reality. Hardheads in the Government say that while everyone would like to see a world without nuclear weapons, the strategic environment is becoming more volatile and dangerous. They argue the US nuclear umbrella provides vital deterrence and protects Australia. For example, DFAT talking points obtained by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) say Australia “must be realistic about the environment in which we operate — North Korean provocations and nuclear tests are a case in point”.
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