Linda Pearson

As the British government is set to celebrate 50 years of Trident, Scottish-based anti-nuclear activist Linda Pearson argues they should instead apologise for the impact of British nuclear weapons testing on Aboriginal communities and halt plans to transfer nuclear waste from the Dounreay nuclear power plant to Australia.

Linda Pearson, anti-nukes activist, says that Members of the Scottish Parliament are effectively profiting from Trident due to the Scottish Parliament’s pension fund investments and that they should re-invest the money into projects which make Scotland a better place to live.

In January, the federal government launched its new Defence Export Strategy, which aims to turn Australia into one of the world’s top 10 arms exporters. The strategy will raise government assistance for arms exports, making Australia more like Britain and other major arms-exporting states.

Over the past three months, the world has watched the escalating tensions between North Korea and the United States with growing alarm. North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear weapons program since first testing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4.

It is unlikely either side is planning to start a nuclear war, but the situation could escalate out of control and lead to a conflict involving nuclear weapons. This would have unthinkable humanitarian and environmental consequences.

Yet the arms companies that make such a conflict possible are benefitting from the increased threat of nuclear war, along with their investors.

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade tabled its report, Principles and Practice — Australian Defence Industry and Exports, in Parliament in December 2015. The report made 19 recommendations about how the Australian government should increase its support of Australian arms exports, which largely reflected the wishes of arms companies.

Most of the arms companies that made submissions to the Inquiry into Government Support for Australian Defence Industry Exports said government assistance in the promotion and facilitation of overseas arms sales should be increased.

Throughout last year, devastating conflicts raged in Iraq and Syria. The Afghan War entered its 16th year with a record number of civilians deaths, while in Yemen, a Western-backed, Saudi-led coalition continued to bomb civilian targets using British and American-made weapons.

The release of the Chilcot Report on July 6 has led to renewed calls for former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in starting the Iraq War.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement in September to allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. Uranium sales were initially approved by then-Coalition PM John Howard in August 2007 but Howard’s successor, Kevin Rudd, reinstated the ban. Rudd’s action was in accordance with long-standing Labor Party policy that uranium should only be sold to countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). A 2008 Lowy Institute poll found that 88% of Australians supported this policy.
In September, Prime Minister Tony Abbott signed an agreement which will allow sales of Australian uranium to India for the first time. India has consistently refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and has manufactured up to 110 nuclear warheads, but has been given a free pass to take part in international nuclear trade by virtue of its new strategic relationship with the United States. The Australia-India deal conflicts with Australia’s obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty, as well as the NPT.

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