North West Cape deal locks in 25 more years of supporting nuclear weapons
Media Release: Senator Scott Ludlam, Tuesday November 1st, 2011.
The Australia-US deal over the Naval Communication Station at North West Cape threatens Ningaloo Reef and needs a complete overhaul, the Australian Greens warned today.
Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam issued a dissenting report in the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties report tabled today in the Senate. Senator Ludlam said the role of the base in supporting the American nuclear-armed submarine fleet was a cause of grave concern and in conflict with Australian commitments to nuclear disarmament.
“Long after the end of the Cold War, this base still facilitates nuclear ballistic missile submarines. The credibility of Australia’s efforts to push for nuclear disarmament on the global level is greatly reduced when we lend ports, infrastructure and personnel to legitimising the retention and deployment of nuclear weapons.”
Senator Ludlam said the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties had acknowledged the proposed 25-year deal would cause conflicting obligations if nuclear disarmament diplomacy advances in the near future, but had “refused to acknowledge that allowing nuclear weapon states to continue business as usual deters any action towards disarmament”.
“So long as Australia continues lend credence to the notion that nuclear weapons bring security by allowing bases on our soil to facilitate the nuclear weapons apparatus, we are missing an opportunity to demonstrate that reducing and ultimately eliminating the role of nuclear weapons is practically achievable.
“The US and Australia should work together on disarmament. This would liberate massive fiscal, human and technical resources for investment in development and sustainability. This would strengthen rather than destroy our alliance with the US.”
Senator Ludlam said the operation of the station is also a threat to the local environment.
“The station sits on Ningaloo Reef – WA’s Great Barrier Reef. North West Cape base emits very low frequency communications and environmentalists have concerns due to the possible ecological impact of low frequency waves on the creatures inhabiting this precious marine sanctuary.”
“The Inquiry into this treaty revealed disagreement between the US and Australia regarding the base. For over ten years there has been no clarity on who is responsible for cleaning up contaminated sites. While that dispute continues, we have asbestos and diesel fuel lying around far too close to a marine sanctuary. If we are going to enter into a 25-year agreement, shouldn’t we clear up this dispute first?”
Media Contact: Giovanni Torre – 0417 174 302