US Warns Australia Against Anti-Nuclear Treaty

Disarmament activists condemned Washington’s effort to intimidate the Albanese government from shifting its position on a treaty that the vast majority of Australians, according to a poll in March, support signing and ratifying. 

Nuclear test survivor from Kazakhstan addressing the first meeting of states parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna in June. (UNIS Vienna, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By Julia Conley
Common Dreams

Anti-nuclear weapons campaigners rebuked the Biden administration on Wednesday over its opposition to Australia’s newly announced voting position on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which could signal the country’s willingness to sign on to the agreement.

As The Guardian reported, the U.S. embassy in Canberra warned Australian officials that the Labor government’s decision to adopt an “abstain” position regarding the treaty — after five years of opposing it — would obstruct Australia’s reliance on American nuclear forces in case of a nuclear attack on the country.

Australia’s ratification of the nuclear ban treaty, which currently has 91 signatories, “would not allow for U.S. extended deterrence relationships, which are still necessary for international peace and security,” the embassy said.

The U.S. also claimed that if Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government ratifies the treaty it would reinforce “divisions” around the world.

Australia “should not face intimidation from so-called allies under the auspices of defense cooperation,” said Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. “The TPNW offers the best chance for lasting global peace and security and a clear road map for nuclear disarmament.”

The TPNW prohibits the development, testing, stockpiling, use, and threats regarding the use of nuclear weapons.

The Australian chapter of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) noted that Albanese’s vocal support for achieving nuclear disarmament puts him in line with the majority of his constituents — while the U.S., as one of nine nuclear powers in the world, represents a small global minority.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcoming Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the Quad meeting in May. (Quad Leaders’ Meeting Tokyo 2022)

According to an Ipsos poll taken in March, 76 percent of Australians support the country signing and ratifying the treaty, while only 6 percent are opposed.

Albanese has won praise from campaigners for his own anti-nuclear advocacy, with the prime minister recently telling The Australian that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling “has reminded the world that the existence of nuclear weapons is a threat to global security and the norms we had come to take for granted.”

“Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane, and indiscriminate weapons ever created,” Albanese said in 2018 as he introduced a motion to commit the Labor Party to supporting the TPNW. “Today we have an opportunity to take a step towards their elimination.”

Labor’s 2021 platform included a commitment to signing and ratifying the treaty “after taking account” of factors including the development of “an effective verification and enforcement architecture.”

Australia’s decision to change its voting position comes as the U.S. is planning to deploy nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the country, where the weapons will be positioned close enough to strike China.

Gem Romuld, Australia director of ICAN, said in a statement that “it’s no surprise the U.S. doesn’t want Australia to join the ban treaty but it will have to respect our right to take a humanitarian stance against these weapons.”

“The majority of nations recognize that ‘nuclear deterrence’ is a dangerous theory that only perpetuates the nuclear threat and legitimizes the forever existence of nuclear weapons, an unacceptable prospect,” Romuld added.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN, called the U.S. embassy’s comments “so irresponsible.”

“Using nuclear weapons is unacceptable, for Russia, for North Korea, and for the U.S., U.K., and all other states in the world,” said Fihn. “There are no ‘responsible’ nuclear armed states. These are weapons of mass destruction and Australia should sign the TPNW!”

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

27 comments for “US Warns Australia Against Anti-Nuclear Treaty

  1. Alan Ross
    November 13, 2022 at 10:36

    Albanese represents one more crack in the wall of US propaganda. Even if crushed it is a ray of light.

  2. Eric Arthur Blair
    November 12, 2022 at 20:25

    Anti nuclear Jacinda Adern has a stronger spine and bigger gonads than Albanese. Maybe she should take over management of “West Island”?

  3. Seby
    November 11, 2022 at 20:34

    albanese (as in sleaze), says Vladimir Putin did some “nuclear sabre rattling”? I missed it! When?

  4. Tim N
    November 11, 2022 at 20:05

    Putin’s sabre-rattling? All this lunacy started with endless US provocations. The US could end this madness tomorrow if it wanted. It has no intention of doing so.

  5. Piotr Berman
    November 11, 2022 at 18:49

    “Labor government’s decision to adopt an “abstain” position regarding the treaty — after five years of opposing it — would obstruct Australia’s reliance on American nuclear forces in case of a nuclear attack on the country.”

    That should mortify all Australians who hope for the help from American nuclear forces in case of a nuclear attack on Australia, perhaps by exploding magical warheads over the affected area and thus, magically, remove all contamination. But it could be worse: US could threaten to reduce intelligence sharing, which really hurts: it moves a vassal to a lower peg.

    In short, the current government has to show that it has at least as much steadfastness as a well prepared jello.

    In any case, Australians should cancel plans for nuclear submarines, and replace them with wind propelled navy: they actually have a very good expertise with sail, huge kite sails are the best way to show the flag, and cost effective too.

    • Seby
      November 12, 2022 at 00:58

      Yes, many have expertise with wind for sure.

      I prefer to just listen to Edwin Starr singing about war and what it is good for!

      • robert e williamson jr
        November 12, 2022 at 15:58

        “Say it again, absolutely nothing!!!”

  6. DMCP
    November 11, 2022 at 10:02

    For a long time, since the end of WWII, the US has been a global empire. Since the end of the USSR, the US has been the only global superpower. During all that time, the US has portrayed itself as the leader and chief proponent of freedom and democracy; perhaps that is what all empires do. And unlike other empires, the US has avoided direct colonial control in favor of soft power. Regardless, the friendly mask is showing some large tears if not coming off altogether. And the nuclear treaty issue in Australia is an illustration that the US will lean on its subjects to toe the imperial line. The empire’s structure may be teetering, but has not fallen, yet.

      November 11, 2022 at 11:21

      After numerous coups and invasions, hard power is used too.

      • DMCP
        November 12, 2022 at 18:43

        Yes, indeed! And often in the harshest way, in order to set an example for other nations that might be tempted to stray from the path.

  7. Tony
    November 11, 2022 at 07:51

    The Obama administration and the Trump administration both tried to wreck this treaty.

    The Biden administration’s actions also show that it fears this treaty. And so people need to stand firm and show their support for it.

    It is no exaggeration to say that our very survival depends on this treaty being successful.

    • Seby
      November 12, 2022 at 00:55

      Indeed Tony. Not abstaining from supporting it!

  8. Vera Gottlieb
    November 11, 2022 at 04:32

    Does the US ever, ever???, tire of dictating to others??? That is a home-made problem: we have allowed America to dictate to us for far too long – always in awe of this war mongering nation. What is there to be in awe of? The ’empire’ is falling apart but still keeps throwing punches. The desperate acts of a loser.

  9. Henry Smith
    November 11, 2022 at 03:41

    Maybe if Australia can grow a pair of gonads they might consider the wellbeing of one of their citizens held by the UK regime at the behest of the USA hegemon ?

    As we remember the war dead let’s not forget political prisoners like Julian Assange.

    • Vera Gottlieb
      November 11, 2022 at 10:35

      Don’t forget…US/UK – Asses of Evil and Australia thrown in for free.

    • catherine johnston
      November 13, 2022 at 06:12

      Well said, I totally agree.

  10. David Johnston
    November 11, 2022 at 00:24

    You know even for the US this is just obscene, the slightest hint of a tepid abstain ( not even a yes!) from having the means to blow up humanity, and they have a hissy fit. And they’re not even trying to hide their marching orders for their vassals anymore.

  11. Andrew Nichols
    November 10, 2022 at 17:23

    Just giving orders to their Canberra colony. Nothing to see here folks.

    • Tim N
      November 11, 2022 at 20:02


  12. November 10, 2022 at 17:06

    The American Empire needs Australia to complete it`s Circle of Bases ,Blockading China. The NSA has had a Base at Pine Gap in Australia for decades. The CIA got Geoff Whitlam Sacked from Prime Minister because he was not a US Bumlicker . America Owes China $9 Trillion in Treasury Bonds.

    • Tony
      November 11, 2022 at 08:03

      ” The CIA got Geoff Whitlam sacked from Prime Minister …”

      And may have been responsible for the disappearance of Harold Holt.

      He was a strong swimmer who knew the waters well. Despite an extensive search, no body was found. He was thought to be having doubts about having Australian troops in Vietnam.

  13. David Verrall
    November 10, 2022 at 16:21

    This news is the shadow prelude announcing the sacking of PM: Anthony Albanese’s. Any colonial leader will only take instruction from “Du Roi”. Ask Whitlam who was sacked for stepping on the UK/US nuclear set up. PM: Anthony Albanese is just waiting for marching orders to come from Charles the Kink in the armour, for daring to pretend that the People mean anything in a colony. That little emblem at the top of the AUS flag is not meaning less.The Common Dreams article is a prelude of decisions already made. “Facsismo” Opposition Dutton comes from more appropriate Squattocracy lineage, where PM: Anthony Albanese is a jumped up commoner and will be summarily executed “Off With His Head”

    • WillD
      November 10, 2022 at 22:47

      Interesting possibility. I think you’re right and there will be moves to try and effect ‘regime change’ if Australia does stand firm. But on what grounds publicly? Albanese is generally seen a a mild mannered man of mediocre ability. He is not a controversial figure.

      The only way would be using dirty tricks – perhaps trying to frame him for something ‘bad’. Create a scandal of some sort.

  14. mgr
    November 10, 2022 at 15:56

    In terms of climate, in terms of conflict and nuclear weapons, in terms of cooperative and stable societies, and in terms of the very survival of human civilization on this planet, the US, consistently and ever more radically, finds itself on the very opposite side of life, that is, a future for humanity. Its stance toward the rest of the world has grown over the decades to become simply: We take what we want. If we cannot have it, we destroy everything. It is for this that the “American century” is ending and the general sigh you hear is one of great relief.

  15. rosemerry
    November 10, 2022 at 15:55

    “Australia’s reliance on American nuclear forces in case of a nuclear attack on the country. ” What a ridiculous suggestion.
    Nuclear wars CANNOT be won and should never be fought. The USA still has the terrible “first use” policy while Russia does NOT. Russia has not been “sabre-rattling” and will NOT use nukes-it is the USA which keeps threatening, NOT Russia. Australia should be nuclear free and join this Treaty like most of the world’s nations.

    • Paulette schroeder osf
      November 11, 2022 at 06:05

      Thank you for this common sense remark!

    • Simon
      November 11, 2022 at 07:56

      Very succinct Rosemerry. Good on you.

Comments are closed.