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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Annual Report 1999-2000


The functions of the Director General, ASNO, include:

  • ensuring the effective operation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 and the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994, and fulfilment of Australias obligations under the treaties these Acts implement;
  • ensuring fulfilment of Australias obligations under nuclear safeguards agreements, including the agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the application of safeguards pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT);
  • monitoring compliance with the provisions of bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements by Australias treaty partners;
  • undertaking, coordinating and facilitating research and development (R&D) in relation to nuclear safeguards;
  • ensuring the timely and effective establishment of CTBT International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities in Australia, and undertaking preparations to meet the full range of Australias obligations under the CTBT when it enters into force; and
  • advising the Minister on nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards matters, and on issues related to CWC implementation and CTBT verification.

Overview of Safeguards Role

In safeguards, ASNO has four main areas of responsibility:

  • the application of safeguards within Australia;
  • the physical protection and security of nuclear items in Australia;
  • the operation of Australias bilateral safeguards agreements; and
  • contributing to the operation and development of international (IAEA) safeguards and the strengthening of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

IAEA safeguards are a key element in international action against the spread of nuclear weapons. Effective IAEA safeguards are of vital interest to Australia because of their contribution to global and regional peace and security. They are also important because they underpin Australias stringent uranium export policies.

Key safeguards functions include:

  • ensuring that nuclear material, associated material, equipment and technology in Australia is properly accounted for and controlled, and ensuring that requirements are met under Australias safeguards agreement with the IAEA and bilateral agreements applying to nuclear material and items in Australia;
  • pursuant to obligations under the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and following IAEA guidelines, ensuring that appropriate security measures are applied to nuclear items in Australia;
  • ensuring Australias bilateral safeguards agreements are implemented satisfactorily, that is, to guarantee Australias nuclear exports remain in exclusively peaceful use; ensuring that conditions which Australia places on the use of Australian Obligated Nuclear Material (AONM), additional to IAEA safeguards, are met (these conditions are outlined on page 86);
  • ensuring that all AONM is subject to IAEA safeguards, and verification of non-diversion is carried out by the IAEA;
  • ensuring that any nuclear items other than nuclear material (i.e. associated material, equipment and technology) which are transferred to other countries are properly accounted for, and that the relevant records of Australias partners are consistent with ASNO records;
  • contributing to the development and effective implementation of IAEA safeguards through activities such as participation in expert groups and international meetings on safeguards, field testing of new safeguards methods in Australia, and presentation of regional training courses on safeguards techniques;
  • managing Australias Support Program for IAEA safeguards, which embraces R&D work and includes consultancy tasks for the IAEA;
  • evaluation of the effectiveness of IAEA safeguards, and evaluation of non-proliferation aspects of nuclear fuel cycle developments, as a basis for advising Government;
  • contributing to the development of Australias policies in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation by colleagues in the International Security Division (ISD) of DFAT; and
  • working closely on technical issues of common interest with agencies such as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), and the Office of National Assessments (ONA).

Overview of CWC Role

ASNO is the focal point in Australia for liaison between stakeholders, such as operators of declared facilities, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the national authorities of other States Parties on issues relating to implementation of the Convention. ASNO's role here is primarily one of liaison and facilitation, to ensure that Australias international obligations under the CWC are met while at the same time making certain that the rights of facility operators are protected. ASNO seeks to promote effective international implementation of the CWC, particularly in Australias immediate region, by working with the OPCW and other States Parties in the resolution of outstanding technical implementation issues.

ASNO is also responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994are met, and may conduct national compliance inspections of relevant chemical facilities. While the Act makes provision for national inspectors to obtain mandatory access to sites, it is expected such powers will be exercised only in exceptional circumstances.

ASNO provides technical support to DFAT in development of a protocol to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). Once the provisions of this protocol are settled, and as Australia moves towards protocol ratification, it is envisaged that ASNO will be expanded to embrace BWC responsibilities similar to those it holds under the CWC.

Key CWC functions include:

  • identifying and gathering information on industrial chemical facilities and activities required to be declared to the OPCW;
  • working with declarable facilities to prepare for the possibility of OPCW inspection;
  • increasing awareness of the CWC and Australias obligations by disseminating information on the Convention and the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 to the chemical industry and other domestic entities likely to be affected;
  • administering and developing regulatory, administrative and logistical mechanisms to enable Australia to fulfil its CWC obligations;
  • liaising with overseas counterpart organisations and with the Technical Secretariat of the OPCW in connection with technical and practical implementation issues;
  • conducting research directed towards improving the effectiveness of the CWCs verification regime;
  • assisting, upon request, other States Parties to implement the CWC, particularly in Australias immediate region; and
  • providing technical advice to support Australias delegation at the negotiations to strengthen the BWC.

Overview of CTBT Role

Although the CTBT has not yet entered into force, it is being applied on a provisional basis by those States that have signed it (States Signatories). The CTBT expressly provides (Article IV) that its verification system (the International Monitoring SystemIMS) shall be capable of meeting the requirements of the Treaty at entry-into-force. The Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organisation (CTBTO), with the CTBTO Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) and States Signatories, are therefore engaged in a very significant task even before the Treaty has come into force. This includes the establishment/upgrading of 337 monitoring facilities around the world, as well as the development of detailed procedures for the operation of these facilities and for the conduct of other verification activities such as On Site Inspections.

ASNO is the main point of contact between Australia and the Provisional Technical Secretariat in Vienna. Overall, the role is one of liaison and facilitation to ensure that the International Monitoring System is established efficiently and relevant domestic regulations are passed.

Key CTBT functions include:

  • being the national point of contact for liaison on CTBT implementation;
  • establishing and maintaining legal, administrative and financial mechanisms to give effect to the CTBT in Australia;
  • developing arrangements for the operation of Australias National Data Centre and preparing for possible on-site inspections in Australia;
  • promoting an understanding in Australia of CTBT verification, including by acting as an interface between technical and policy specialists; and
  • contributing to the work of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and its working groups.

Advice to the Government

The staff of ASNO have substantial experience in international and bilateral safeguards, nuclear technology, CWC verification issues and CTBT processes and procedures. Drawing on this expertise and an international network of contacts in other governments and organisations, ASNO provides technical and policy advice to the Government and other bodies.

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