As global nuclear weapons ban comes into force, Australia’s still pro-nukes
SYDNEY, Jan 22 2021 - Today the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons becomes international law after being signed by 86 countries, with Australia a notable absentee.
Fifty-one nations have ratified the treaty and polling shows that almost three-quarters of Australian support banning nuclear weapons. 
“The Morrison Government’s decision to effectively support the use of the most destructive weapons ever known to humanity, goes against the clear wishes of the majority of Australians and provides yet another example of how out of touch this government is,” Greenpeace Australia Pacific Head of Research and Investigations, Dr Nikola Casule said.
“The Morrison Government’s failure to support a ban on nuclear weapons is a slap in the face to the victims of nuclear weapons testing in Australia and across the Pacific, where vast swathes of land were rendered uninhabitable by radiation levels that remain higher than Chernobyl or Fukushima to this day.” 
“Nobody wins a nuclear war. The only way we can be truly free of the threat of nuclear war is to consign these weapons to the dustbin of history.”
Greenpeace has a long history of campaigning against nuclear weapons dating back to 1970, where the organisation was first set up to protest against US nuclear weapons testing in Amchitka, Alaska.
“Nuclear weapons are a perennial threat: almost 80 years after the first tests, their toxic legacy remains, putting all forms of life at risk of debilitating illness and death and making once pristine environments toxic wastelands.
“Greenpeace was born out of the vital need to protect the world from the scourge of nuclear weapons and in the 50 years since we have learnt even more about their lethal impacts at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle.”
Download photos and videos of Greenpeace’s anti-nuclear demonstrations and the aftermath of the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior here
Greenpeace and nuclear weapons
After testing ceased at Amchitka, Greenpeace shifted its focus to French nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific, a region that had already been devastated by widespread nuclear weapons testing. Subsequently, in1985 Greenpeace’s flagship vessel The Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French forces while anchored in the Port of Auckland, New Zealand, resulting in the death of Portuguese freelancer photographer Fernando Pereira.
What the UN treaty will do
The treaty will comprehensively ban nuclear weapons and related activity. It will be illegal for parties to undertake any activities related to nuclear weapons. It bans the use, development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possession, stockpiling, transferring, receiving, threatening to use, stationing, installation, or deployment of nuclear weapons.
How is it different to the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty?
The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 contains only partial prohibitions, and nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties prohibit nuclear weapons only within certain geographical regions. The Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty is an addition, and recognises the importance of full implementation of the NPT.
Greenpeace Australia Pacific Communications Campaigner, Martin Zavan
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