PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 5232


Photo of Fraser, Malcolm

Fraser, Malcolm

Period of Service: 11/11/1975 to 11/03/1983

More information about Fraser, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 13/01/1980

Release Type: Media Release

Transcript ID: 5232

P 6
FOR MEDIA January l3 ,980
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is a grave threat to the
maintenance of world peace.
Not only has the invasion presented a sharp challenge to the
United States, but it has had a profoundly destabilising effect
extending far beyond Afghanistan and its immediate neighbours.
It is important that we all have a clear perception of the
implications of Soviet actions in Afghanistan.
Large Scviet forces have invaded a small, non-aligned, independent
country. The action taken against Afghanistan is similar to that taken
against Hungary and Czechoslovakia in earlier years. On this
occasion, however, the Soviet Union has moved outside the
Iron Curtain bloc accepted since the War as the Soviet sphere
of influence.
We reject totally the Soviet claim that they were invited into
Afghanistan by the former government in order to protect that
country from external threat.
It is a spurious claim.
The xian who was a pro-Soviet ' leader of Afghanistan before the
invasion was killed after Soviet forces had control of the capital
city of Kabul.
The new ' leader' of Afghanistan was brought into the country by
Soviet officials severals days after Soviet control was established.
He and his so-called ' government' are clearly Soviet puppets.
The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan threatens world peace because
of the strategic iimportance and volatility of the area.
The bordering nations of Iran and Pakistan already not without
their problems have reason to fear for their security.
The next Soviet. objective could well be designed to give it access
to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. / 2

With that access, the Soviet Union could assert control over much",
of the world's oil supplies and a new dominance in the Indian Ocea>,%,
Who can doubt that that is their next objective?
The consequences of any such Soviet action would be intolerable
for the entire world.
It would threaten the security of all countries and fundamentally
alter the strategic balance to the disadvantage of the United States
and its friends, including Australia.
That is why we have decided that Australia must respond strongly
and give a lead to others in our own area.
We! need to make it clear that Soviet action in Afghanistan represents
a serious threat to stability and peace and that the international
community -should not allow any extension or repetition of such behaviour
without the Soviet Union paying a high price.
It. must also be understood that the Soviet Union has lent its
support to other destabilising action as well.
There can be no doubt that. Vietnam would not have moved into
Kampuchea without Soviet support.
The Soviet Union sees Vietnam as-promoting Soviet-interests in
South East Asia and thus it supports the continuing presence of
Vietnamese forces in Kampuchea.
In Southern Africa, the Soviet Union has long encouraged the deepeninc
and prolongation of instability and war.
And now wh: n peace? is so near at hand in Rhodesia, as the country
moves towards legal independence and genuine majority rule, it is
clear that the Soviet Union does not find events there to its liking.
When the Soviet Ambassador called on me at " Nareen" last week, he
could not or would not answer questions as to why the Soviet Unio:-
was not supporting the arrangements, agr~ eed to by all parties,,_.
which hold out the best hope of movement towards peace' in
Southern Africa for more than a decade.-
Despite the hopes-of former years, Sovie . t behavi our Internationally
is clearly unacceptable and the Government has acted todemonstrate
its concern and its opposition.
We have offered to consult with. the United States concerning an
increased Australian contribution to security in the Indian Ocean areE
We have supported United States action on wheat sales, by agreeing
not to replace the 17 million tonnes of grain which the US had
intended to sell t~ o the USSR during 1979/ 80 although our normal
sales to the Soviet Union will continue.
We have withdrawn approvals for two fishing projects off the
Western Australian and Tasmanian coasts;'
We are reviewing Soviet shipping operations in Australia, and no
further approvals will be granted for Soviet research vessels to
visit our ports.

Scientific collaboration with the Soviet Union is suspended as
are all official talks and visits and no new programmes under the
Cultural Programme will be entered into.
Prosident Carter's announcement last. weekend of the US reaction to
the Soviet invasion sought the co-operation of other nations in
imposing sanctions on the Soviet Union.
Australia's response has been prompt.
In fact we have been one of the first Western nations to take such
firm action.
It was important for us to act to let the United S tates know that
it is not alone in the major burdens and obligation it has as
chief defender of the faith of the free world.
Our action has already been warmly received. President Carter
has written to me thanking Australia for our steadfast support
and assistance.
It was, the President said, an invaluable part of the joint effort
of the Western Alliance in this most difficult situation.
We realise that the weight that Australia a nation of 14 millioncan
throw into the scales is limited.
But it is of vital importance that we do all we can to support the
United States, Britain and Canada indeed all . nations that respect
the principles of international law in opposition to the Soviet
action in Afghanistan.
I am delighted to see that the Canadian Prime Mini4ster announced
yesterday a range of measures against the Soviet Union which
are'broadly parallel to those which we have taken.
It may well be that the Soviet troops-will stay In Afghanistan
despite what the United States and other like-minded countries do.
But collectively need to make the price of their action so high
that * It* Will ne* V r 16gain be repeated.

Transcript 5232