Sydney, Sept.8 : Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government should harness the nation's clout as a uranium supplier and its diplomatic ties to Asia and the United States to push for a disarmament declaration by the region's leaders, a former diplomat has said.
In Lowy Institute paper, former diplomat Rory Medcalf warns that the rise of nuclear energy in Asia combined with persistent national rivalries poses a growing long-term threat to Australia in the so-called "Asian century".
"Nuclear dangers are growing in Asia and globally. Nuclear-armed states are keeping and modernising their arsenals, many with first-use doctrines ... Terrorism, nuclear energy expansion and geopolitical rivalries add to proliferation fears. The possibility of the use of nuclear weapons is small but not diminishing," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Medcalf, as saying.
The paper envisions potential sources of regional nuclear instability, including the possibility of crumbling relations between India and China, an emboldened united Korea and a Japanese loss of faith in its US alliance.
"Add ingredients of strategic competition, nationalism, unresolved historical differences and resource and territorial rivalries, and the Asian century begins to look fragile," Medcalf adds.
Medcalf, a former official at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, worked on the Canberra Commission, the predecessor to the nuclear commission announced by the Rudd Government earlier this year.