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Australia should stick to its principles

By Julie Bishop - posted Thursday, 30 August 2012

The decision of the Australian government to dispatch two senior officials to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Iran is a mistake.

At best it will send mixed messages to the regime about the commitment of the Australian government to the sanctions that have been imposed against Iran.

At worst it will hand the regime a propaganda victory domestically and perhaps internationally that international efforts to isolate Iran are waning and that governments of some western democracies are prepared to engage.


The test is whether Australia would have sent to Iran the Prime Minister's Special Envoy Joanna Hewitt and the Ambassador to the United Nations Gary Quinlan in the normal course of events.

In other words, would these senior officials have been sent to Iran if Australia were not engaged in a campaign seeking support for a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council?

It is hard to think of a scenario where the answer to that question would be other than in the negative.

To put the Government's decision in context, Iran is currently subject to one of the most severe range of sanctions imposed on any nation over the past 50 years.

Australia has supported the imposition of the UN mandated sanctions, including:

•a ban on sales of certain goods and technology related to nuclear technology, ballistic missiles and other weapons;


•a ban on the provision of technical assistance, training, finance or other forms of support;

•the suspension of all business relationships; and

•the prohibition of dealings with certain individuals associated with the regime and travel bans on regime officials.

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About the Author

Julie Bishop is the Federal Member for Curtin, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs.

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