New push needed to stop nukes: leaders

Former prime ministers, foreign and defence ministers have urged all nations to put new effort into nuclear disarmament.


The call comes as Prime Minister Tony Abbott prepares to sign a nuclear co-operation deal with India despite that country not having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Twenty-nine political, diplomatic, military and scientific leaders from 14 Asia-Pacific countries have signed what has been called the Jakarta Declaration on Nuclear Weapons.

The declaration urges all nuclear-armed states, and allies such as Australia who rely on their nuclear protection, to commit to “no first use” of nuclear weapons.

It also calls for a convention to be negotiated making the “no first use” a binding commitment by the US, Russia, China, India, North Korea and Pakistan.

As Asia is the only region in the world where nuclear stockpiles are growing, the group urged at least a freeze on present arsenals, and their reduction over time to the lowest levels “consistent with maintaining minimum effective retaliatory capability”.

All nuclear-armed states should also take their nuclear weapons off high operational alert and separate warheads from land and air-based delivery vehicles.

Group convenor, former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, said a renewed sense of urgency was needed to deal with the risks posed by the world’s 16,000 remaining nuclear weapons.

“It’s time for leaders to listen, and act,” he said.

The Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament was formed in 2011.

The declaration text was agreed in Jakarta on August 18 and released on Thursday.

Signatories include former NZ prime ministers Geoffrey Palmer and James Bolger, former Australian PM Malcolm Fraser, former Pakistan joint chiefs of staff chairman Jehangir Karamat and former Indian foreign secretary Lalit Mansingh.