Government Urged to End Greatest Threat to Peace

29 April 2005

The Uniting Church in Australia today urged the Federal Government to continue to oppose the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons and put pressure on countries who threaten the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) ahead of the upcoming review of the treaty in New York.

Uniting Church President, the Reverend Dr Dean Drayton, said the Church was concerned that pressure might be brought against countries like Australia to soften their stance on nuclear weapons during the Review of the Treaty being held from May 2-27.

"Nuclear weapons pose the single greatest threat to peace in the world. There are about 30,000 nuclear warheads ready for use and about 5000 of these are on hair-trigger alert. There can be no room for human error when it comes to nuclear weapons – they must be taken off 'ready-to-launch' status and complete disarmament must happen.

"Australia has a always taken a strong stand against the proliferation and development of nuclear weapons and I have written to the Foreign Minister, the Hon. Alexander Downer, urging him to take a lead role in ensuring that the 2005 Review Conference focuses on both nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

"Every Australian dreams of a world without conflict and violence and the Uniting Church hopes that at this NPT Review Mr Downer works to bring those dreams closer to reality.

"We have asked that the Australian delegation express our country's unwavering commitment to Article VI of the Treaty, which calls for a complete nuclear disarmament, and push hard for the implementation of the 13 point action plan of the 2000 Review Conference, which includes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We have also called on Mr Downer to seek a resolution which requires all nuclear weapons-holding States to immediately lower the operational status of their weapons systems.

"At our Tenth Assembly in 2003, the Uniting Church stated its belief that genuine global security will only ever be achieved by working for an end to the arms trade, preventing the proliferation of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction and requiring progressive disarmament of all nations.

"The Church believes that the ownership, use, or threatened use, of nuclear weapons is evil and threatens peace every single day. In an increasingly unstable global environment it is now more important than ever that Australia continues to work toward total nuclear disarmament," Rev. Drayton said.