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Nuclear Weapons Discussion Panel

Posted by Ryan Attard and Francesco Barrese (Monash International Affairs Society) on 10 July 2018

An evening of unique and invaluable insights from experts in government, foreign affairs, and nuclear weaponry discussing Australian nuclear policy.

On Monday 16th April, the Monash International Affairs Society was honoured to host a discussion panel on nuclear weapons. Chaired by Associate Professor Maria Rost Rublee, MIAS was privileged to have former Foreign Minister Dr Gareth Evans; Tim Wright of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN); His Excellency Dr Bernhard Zimburg, Ambassador of Austria; and Ian McConville, Director of Nuclear Policy at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT).

MIAS members were enthralled with the debate between the speakers and the discussion on key issues. Notably, this included a lively dialogue about Australia’s recent policies regarding denuclearisation in contrast to our past efforts. Dr Evans was highly critical of the current Federal Government’s apathy, blaming our close relations with the United States. Mr. Wright also emphasised this, indicating that the Australian Government had let denuclearisation go into dismay as a policy objective. Dr. Zimberg reiterated this, citing his work in Japan in the Austrian Embassy in Tokyo to further campaigns to curtail nuclearisation. This was discussed in light of Australia’s vote against UN Resolution L.41, which convened negotiations of a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”

The speakers also answered the questions from an inquisitive audience, including their thoughts regarding future denuclearisation and policy recommendations. Notably, the speakers gave some insight into the North Korean situation and the dialogue between Kim Jong Un, South Korean President Moon Jae-In and President Trump. Highlighting optimism, Tim Wright and Dr Evans both indicated that the commencement of dialogue on this subject between the nations symbolised a growing resistance against nuclearisation and a dramatic shift away from the fears of the Cold War.

The riveting discussing concluded with a networking event where members could speak one-on-one with our guests. Members had the opportunity to talk about nuclear policy in more detail and also gain some insight into the panelists career experience, developing valuable connections in the realm of international affairs and government policy. Some were also very excited to hold an actual Nobel Peace Prize. Overall, the event showcased a global movement towards denuclearisation and a growing movement seeking the abandonment of many defence policies of the Cold War.

Find out more about the Monash International Affairs Society