US Cautions Against Australian Support for Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese

The US has cautioned Australia against ratifying a landmark treaty banning nuclear weapons, after the nation abstained in a UN vote.

Australia has always voted in opposition to the treaty previously, but has now shifted to a position of abstaining under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Albanese has long campaigned against nuclear weapons, describing them as “the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created”.

New Zealand said it was “pleased to observe a positive shift” in Australia’s position on the issue, adding that it “would, of course, welcome any new ratifications as an important step to achieving a nuclear weapon-free world”. Indonesian ambassador Siswo Pramono said the decision “gives encouragement to others to believe that we are on the right path”.

The US embassy in Canberra did not respond so favorably though, saying the agreement could harm defense arrangements between the US and its allies.

Ratification of the treaty “would not allow for US extended deterrence relationships, which are still necessary for international peace and security,” the embassy said.

The treaty, which only entered into force last year, imposes a blanket ban on the development, testing, stockpiling, use or threat of using nuclear weapons. To date none of the nuclear powers have signed the treaty, which currently has 91 signatories.