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United Nations: Australia Proposes Solution To Nuclear Treaty Stalemate

Canberra, 23 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Australia says it will ask the United Nations General Assembly next month to endorse a draft treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons.

Two and a half years of negotiations of the 61-nation Geneva Conference on Disarmament came to an end yesterday after India vetoed the draft accord.

Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, says his government has asked for a special session of the General Assembly next month to endorse the treaty. In contrast to the Geneva talks, which require consensus, the General Assembly works on the basis of a simple majority.

The five declared nuclear powers--the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China--say sufficient support exists despite India's veto to open the draft for adoption and signing in New York.

Agreement would make permanent a two-and-a-half year old moratorium on nuclear weapons testing and halt the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

India vetoed the draft treaty because it does not contain a pledge by the five declared nuclear powers to scrap their estimated 21,000 nuclear weapons.