Basel Peace Office – 2018-12-23 07:14:42
US Congress action on Ban Treaty.
Australian Labor Party Gives qualified Support
Basel Peace Office
(December 18, 2018) — In this update we report on US Congress and other parliamentary actions in response to US President Trump’s announcement of intent to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, and on the decision of the Australian Labor Party to give conditional support to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Ban Treaty).
Australian Labor Party gives
qualified support for the Ban Treaty
The Australian Labor Party (currently the main opposition party) adopted a motion at its national conference yesterday giving qualified support to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW —or Ban Treaty), an international agreement negotiated in 2017 by non-nuclear States, but opposed by the Australian government and all the nuclear armed and allied States.
The motion provides that a Labor government would sign and ratify the TPNW subject to a number of considerations or conditions, including the need for an effective verification and enforcement architecture for the treaty, along with positive interaction between the Ban Treaty and the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and progress toward universal support for the Ban Treaty.
The proposal to support the TPNW was submitted by Anthony Albanese MP, Member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
The resulting motion is a compromise between those in the Labor Party who support unconditional support for the TPNW, and others including Labor leader Bill Shorten and Labor Senate leader Penny Wong who are critical of the TPNW as counter-productive to efforts to move nuclear armed States to undertake nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament measures, and their concerns that ratifying the TPNW might be incompatible with Australian military cooperation with the United States, in particular the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap in Australia.
Some analysts say the conditions on signing the TPNW would likely prevent the party from following through with such a move if elected.
“The resolution lays out a set of pragmatic conditions that will have to be met before a future Labor government can consider signing the ban treaty,” US Studies Centre foreign policy director Ashley Townshend said. “These will be very difficult to achieve, given the treaty’s many defects, making it unlikely a future Labor government will sign up.”
See Labor’s nuclear ban treaty move a self-defeating face-saver, The Australian.
US Withdrawal from the INF Treaty
On October 20, 2018, US President Trump announced his intent to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), an historic agreement reached in 1987 between the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometres, and to utilize extensive on-site inspections for verification of the agreement.
The US decision follows a years-long US-Russian dispute about whether each side is violating the treaty.
The US alleges that Moscow has developed and deployed a prohibited missile, a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) having a range prohibited under the INF Treaty. The US administration has also expressed concern that China, which is not a party to the INF Treaty, is gaining a military advantage in East Asia by deploying large numbers of treaty non-compliant missiles.
Russia has denied violating the INF, and has responded with allegations that the US is in violation of the INF Treaty by deploying launching systems capable of firing cruise missiles.
US Congress and the INF Treaty
President Trump’s decision on the INF Treaty is proving controversial in the US Congress.
Leading Democrats are concerned that President Trump’s decision was taken in order that the US Administration could then develop new nuclear weapons systems currently prohibited under the INF. They are also concerned that US withdrawal from the INF would also remove constraints on Russian nuclear weapons development and deployment.
“President Trump’s reckless decision to pull the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty alienates us from our allies and risks returning us to the Cold War postures of yesterday,” said Senator Merkley. “A new nuclear arms race would be costly to our treasury and dangerous for the world. Congress must not fund new ground-launched or ballistic missiles that will fuel a dangerous arms race across the globe.”
PNND Co-President Senator Markey, a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has joined with Senators Merkley, Warren, Gillibrand, Wyden, Feinstein and Sanders (Independent) in submitting S.3667 the Prevention of Arms Race Act of 2018.
The Senate Resolution calls on the US Administration to remain in the INF, and instead seek additional meetings of the Special Verification Commission (established in the INF) to resolve the concerns related to alleged violations of the Treaty. In addition S.3667 would maintain constraints on the US producing shorter- or intermediate-range ground launched ballistic or cruise missile system even if the INF treaty is terminated.
The Trump decision has also been opposed by leading members of the House of Representatives, including Rep Adam Smith who is set to become the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee in the new congress and Rep Eliot Engel who is set to become the Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.
Some European Voices
On October 25, PNND member Fabian Hamilton MP (UK) raised the issue of US withdrawal from the INF in the UK House of Commons, asking for the UK government’s position.
On October 23, Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (and a former PNND Council Member), warned the Trump Administration that INF withdrawal could trigger another nuclear arms race.
According to Mogherini:
“The INF contributed to the end of the cold war and constitutes a pillar of European security architecture since it entered into force 30 years ago. Thanks to the INF treaty, almost 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads have been removed and verifiably destroyed. The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability.”
Mogherini has also expressed concerns to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov regarding the allegations about Russian non-compliance with the INF and the need to resolve this issue In Germany, there is strong cross-party support for the INF Treaty.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SDP) has expressed concern over the US decision and has vowed to personally attempt to save the INF agreement.
“INF must be preserved,” said Roderich Kiesewetter, a PNND Council Member and the representative of the ruling CDU/CSU bloc joint faction in the German parliament’s foreign affairs committee.
Agnieszka Brugger, the Greens foreign policy spokesperson and also a PNND Council Member described US withdrawal from the INF as “risky nonsense” and a “dangerous, dumb decision”.
Abolition 2000, the global network to eliminate nuclear weapons, will be organising an international webinar in January 2019 on the INF Treaty. Details to be circulated soon.
Yours in peace,
The Basel Peace Office
A proud member of Abolition 2000, the global network to eliminate nuclear weapons
Copyright 2018 Basel Peace Office, All rights reserved.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.