FRIENDS OF THE EARTH AUSTRALIA
UNITY FOR PEACE (VIC/NSW – 74 GROUPS)
PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT NSW
AUSTRALIAN PEACE COMMITTEE
CAMPAIGN FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION AND DISARMAMENT (CICD)
ENVIRONMENT CENTRE OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY (ECNT)
ARID LANDS ENVIRONMENT CENTRE BEYOND NUCLEAR INITIATIVE
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SENATOR LYN ALISON
SENATOR NATASHA STOTT-DESPOJA
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SENATOR KERRY NETTLE
SENATOR RACHEL SIEWERT
TANYA PLIBERSEK MHR
JILL HALL MHR
LEE RHIANNON MLC GREENS NSW
ATTN MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER 6273-4112, 6161-2151 08-8237-7950
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, KEVIN RUDD, 07-3899-5755 6277-8508
KIM BEAZLEY 6277-8495, 08-9592-1361
RE: NORTH KOREA/US/RUSSIA/INDIA/TAIWAN MISSILE TESTS
Dear Foreign Minister Downer,
You have many times expressed the importance of countering nuclear proliferation. Most recently its risks have been strongly emphasised by the Blix commission on weapons of mass destruction, and Mr El Baradei and Kofi Annan have frequently referred to it.
The risk of the actual use of nuclear weapons rises exponentially as the number of governments possessing these weapons rises.
In this context, the possession of nuclear weapons by an increasing number of countries, (including, but not only the DPRK) is more than worrisome: it is, in the medium – term, a potential threat to the continued survival of civilisation. However, the nations that retain the ability literally to render the world unlivable remain the US and Russia, with thousands of warheads still on LoW status.
If more and more countries acquire not only nuclear weapons but a potent means of delivery such as long-range ballistic missiles, their use at some point becomes more and more probable. Again, this consideration applies strongly to the DPRK, but not only to the DPRK. Others, including the USA, have recently planned to make actual use of nuclear weapons.
Early this month, the DPRK tested six or possibly seven missiles, most of them short-medium range Scud and Nodong missiles. One was a long-range Taepo-Dong missile that, potentially, may have had the range to reach the US west coast, and hence also all of Australia. That missile flew for 30-40 seconds before disintegrating.
In the last month however, not only did the DPRK test missiles, but on 14June the US tested a minuteman-III missile which flew from Vandenberg on the US west coast to Kwajelien in the Pacific, sucessfully deploying (dummy) multiple warheads. We understand that yet another Minuteman-III missile is to be test-launched on 19 July. On 30 June Russia launched a Bulava submarine-launched missile (with which previously they have had failures) from the Barents Sea to Kamchatka.
And early this month, India test-launched an Agni-III missile, with a theoretical range sufficient to reach Beijing, which flew for 1000Km before prematurely splashing down in the bay of Bengal.
The DPRK test recieved massive condemnation, but nothing at all was said in relation to the US, Russian, or Indian, tests. The US and Russian tests went all-but unnoticed.
You suggested in a recent talk in the Centre for Independent Studies that this might be due to the nature of the DPRK regime. Certainly, recent statements emanating from that quarter have been highly unhelpful. This missile test was not an act calculated to enhance peace and stability on the Korean Penninsula or in the region, and is deeply disturbing. Yet more disturbing is the inflammatory rhetoric emanating from Pyongyang.
The nature of the DPRK regime and/or our attitude to it cannot ever be a ground for our attitude on matters that affect the whole world. These standards must be enforced without fear or favour on all involved, friends and enemies, people we like and people we may not happen to like, or with whom we may not be getting on right now, because what is at stake is more than our particular short term interests. A standard that applies to some people and not others – the US, Russia, and India are allowed to test missiles but not the DPRK – is not a standard that will not have the slightest purchase in the DPRK itself, who are after all the people you actually want to influence.
If it is alright for the US, Russia, and India to test missiles it is by implication alright for the DPRK to test missiles. If it is NOT alright for the DPRK to test missiles, then by implication it is not alright for the US, Russia, and India to test missiles.
>From where the NGO community stands, a missile test is a missile test is a missile test. There is no such thing as a good missile test. A missile test done by the US or India is not any better than one done by the DPRK, and if the DPRK test is to be condemned (as it should be condemned), then so also the tests done by the US, Russia, India, and Taiwan must be as strongly condemned. A standard that applies to some participants and not to others is utterly without integrity, and will never stand.
The matter of the DPRK is currently in the UN Security Council. It is vital that the Security Council considers above all, the stability of the Korean Penninsula and of the region. The UNSC ought to use this opportunity to consider the broader question of the testing of missiles by anyone. Whatever the outcome there, it is vital that further escalation of this matter not happen. The need of the hour is for the temperature to be taken out of this dispute, and for a resumption of the six-party talks. What then needs to happen is for the US and the DPRK to take steps to improve the relationship between them, and to do so with determination and integrity. North Korea – as you have said yourself often – needs to enter the community of nations.
Australia, as one of the relatively few nations that has diplomatic relations with the DPRK, could play a constructive role in this, as you did yourself when you last visited Pyongyang.
Australia should also play a role in raising the broader and wider issue of the testing of ballistic missiles by not just the DPRK, but by any nation, including especially those with capabilities infinitely more deadly than the DPRK. Unless the broader issue of missile testing is also raised, then the emphasis on the DPRK will be seen by many as one standard for the DPRK and another standard for those nations that have established and far more deadly, capabilities than the DPRK.
Please give this your earnest consideration. We await a detailed and prompt reply.
John Hallam, Friends of the Earth Australia
David Glanz, Unity for Peace,
Cameron Schraner, People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND) NSW
Pauline Mitchell, Camaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament (CICD)
Irene Gale, Australian Peace Committee
Environment Centre of the Northern Territory (ECNT),
Nat Wasley, Arid Lands Environment Centre Beyond Nuclear Initiative
Judy Mc Veigh, Moreland Peace group,
Jo Errey, Marrickville Peace Group,
Buddhist Peace Foundation
Doreen Shenman, Tasmanian Peace Network
Senator Lyn Alison
Senator Natasha Stott-Despoja
Senator Bob Brown
Senator Kerry Nettle
Senator Rachel Siewert
Tanya Plibersek MHR
Jill Hall MHR
Lee Rhiannon MLC Greens, NSW