Rethinking Australia's Middle-Power Nuclear Paradox

Warren, A 2019, 'Rethinking Australia's Middle-Power Nuclear Paradox', Arms Control Today, vol. 49, no. May, pp. 18-23.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title Rethinking Australia's Middle-Power Nuclear Paradox
Author(s) Warren, A
Year 2019
Journal name Arms Control Today
Volume number 49
Issue number May
Start page 18
End page 23
Total pages 6
Publisher Arms Control Association
Abstract The state of Australia has often championed itself as a good global citizen and middle power who is committed to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. Over the years, it's Prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers have consistently maintained positions advocating irreversible reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons held by all nuclear-annexed states. Additionally, they have regularly emphasized Australia's commitment to the NPT as the cornerstone of global peace and security, and to pursuing practical, realistic measures for nuclear disarmament. As this article will argue, however, and notwithstanding participation in a range of initiatives, Australia maintains a somewhat veiled paradoxical approach where it does not: challenge the purposes and value of nuclear weapons, question the legality and legitimacy of such weapons, nor the logic and practice of nuclear deterrence. It leaves nuclear agency entirely in the hands of the possessor states, compliantly accepting that they can safely manage nuclear risks by appropriate adjustments to warhead numbers, nuclear doctrines and force postures. In more forthright terms, Australia has become a laggard, a hedging player, and in real terms, a middle power participatory state where nuclear disarmament appears to be of lower priority than bolstering and indefinitely sustaining the legitimacy and credibility of deterrence. As such, and to prevent a dangerous backslide, the article suggests what Australia could do more of in the form of bolder collaborative efforts with like-minded states like Canada, Japan and Norway to explore strategic stability at low numbers of nuclear weapons and the conditions for serious steps towards nuclear disarmament.
Subject International Relations
Australian Government and Politics
Keyword(s) Nuclear Weapons
International Security
Australian Foreign Policy
Political Science
Non-proliferation
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ISSN 0196-125X
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