Australia's dangerous nuclear double standard
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wasted no time in joining the chorus of international condemnation of North Korea's latest nuclear weapon test.

"North Korea's actions fly in the face of international non-proliferation norms, and challenge the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Bishop said.

But behind Bishop's ready condemnation lies an awkward contradiction. Like North Korea, Australia believes that nuclear weapons really do make it safer.

Of course, Australia claims that it supports nuclear disarmament and is working for a world free of nuclear weapons. But our actions say something different: Australia relies on extended nuclear deterrence for its security, has no plans to change that, and has been actively opposing and resisting international steps to stigmatise and prohibit nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds.

Defying moves towards a new treaty banning nuclear weapons, Bishop stated that "the stark reality today remains that as long as nuclear weapons exist, many countries, including Australia, will continue to rely on nuclear deterrence to help prevent nuclear attack or coercion".

Australia resists nuclear disarmament push because it relies on US deterrent
Exclusive: Diplomatic cables reveal prospects for nuclear disarmament are ‘bleak’ as Australia becomes increasingly lonely in opposing 116-nation push for a global ban on nuclear WMDs.

Prospects for nuclear disarmament are “bleak” under the current non-proliferation treaty, Australian diplomats have conceded in cables back to Canberra, but the country will resist growing global support for a new treaty banning nuclear weapons because of a dependence on the nuclear deterrent capability of the USA.

Emails released under freedom of information, reveal Australia is increasingly worried about an Austrian-led push for a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons.

The Austrian pledge, which 116 countries – most of the world’s nations – have endorsed, proposes to “fill the legal gap of the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons”.

The Australian government’s argument that it required the protection of a foreign power’s nuclear weapons is “a long-held belief that has gone unchallenged”. “Nuclear weapons undermine safety, they do not enhance it.”

2015 is the year to ban nuclear weapons
The most important development in nuclear disarmament since the Cold War ended 25 years ago is now under way. All governments, including our own, were invited to support a commitment by the government of Austria "to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons", and "to co-operate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal." By this week, 40 governments have already joined this call. They include all the 33 states of Latin America and the Caribbean. The rest are in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. More are joining. Yet as documents released this week under Freedom of Information confirm, the Australian government continues to categorically oppose banning the most destructive and indiscriminate of all weapons.

Australia faces a moment of truth – are we serious about nuclear disarmament, or will we continue to oppose a treaty banning nuclear weapons?

Australian population used to test for radiation contamination from Maralinga
BRITISH scientists secretly used the Australian population to test for radiation contamination after the nuclear tests at Maralinga in the 1950s. In his book, Maralinga, Walker details how the meeting at Harwell on May 24, 1957, decided to first obtain soil samples from pasture regions near Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth to check for fallout from the nine nuclear bombs detonated at Maralinga and the Monte Bello Islands, off WA. The second phase was to test vegetation, particularly grass and cabbage, and milk for the presence of the radioactive isotope, Strontium-90, a fission by-product of nuclear explosions. The final phase of the testing would be to determine if Strontium-90 was being absorbed by the Australian population.

The scientists then agreed to start testing the bones of dead Australian infants and children for radiation contamination. “As many bones as possible are to be obtained,” says DEFE 16/608. The bones would be crushed into a powder and sent to the UK for analysis along with the soil, animal samples and vegetation collected from the Australian testing sites.

Greens warn against India uranium deal
OPPONENTS of nuclear power have warned Australia against selling uranium to India amid speculation a long-elusive deal has been struck between the trading partners. THERE are reports a nuclear safeguards agreement has finally been reached between the nations after years of negotiations, paving the way for Australia to export uranium to the nuclear-armed state. The move will prove controversial as India hasn't signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Critics have long warned that Australian uranium could help India free up its domestic reserves for use in nuclear weapons, only furthering tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.

"Instead of fuelling this arms race, Australian industry should be partnering with India's vibrant solar sector," Greens senator Scott Ludlum said in a statement.