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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

Outlook:The Year Ahead

Despite a satisfactory outcome from the 2000 NPT Review Conference, there are still some major challenges to be addressed in making further progress towards the reduction and eventual elimination of weapons of mass destruction. While neither India nor Pakistan has conducted full scale nuclear tests since 1998, neither shows any signs of winding back its nuclear weapons programs or signing the CTBT in the near future. The security of fissile material in Russia continues to be the focus of international programs. Concluding a protocol to strengthen the BWC, and unlocking the work program of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to enable commencement of negotiations on the FMCT, are other areas requiring major effort.

Generally, States have been slow to conclude Additional Protocols, and the hope that the Protocol would have become the safeguards norm by the 2000 NPT Review Conference was not realised. As at 30 June 2000, there were only 11 Protocols in effect, though a further 44 Protocols had been signed or approved by the IAEA Board of Governors, and ratification of these can be expected during the year as the necessary legislation is put in place. However, this leaves 23 non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the NPT that have nuclear activities but as yet have made no commitment to conclude Additional Protocols. A major priority for 2000-01 will be continuing encouragement for other States to conclude their Protocols as quickly as possible, so that strengthened safeguards measures can be brought into general application without delay.

In the nuclear non-proliferation/safeguards area, ASNO will continue to work closely with the IAEA and our counterpart organisations in the further development of strengthened and integrated safeguards. ASNO expects to commence significant new projects under our safeguards R&D program in support of the IAEA, in collaboration with the US. ASNO will also be closely following developments in nuclear technology, with regard to their possible non-proliferation implications.

Notwithstanding difficulties in the Conference for Disarmament, ASNO will continue to develop technical proposals in support of the FMCT, under which the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons would be prohibited. ASNO has established itself internationally as a leader in this area. The FMCT will be complementary to the CTBTtogether they would place a quantitative cap on the nuclear material available for weapons and a qualitative cap on nuclear weapon development.

The initial phase of the international review of the CPPNM is likely to be concluded, and ASNO expects there will be follow-up work to progress this review to a more formal stage, possibly leading to a revision of the Convention.

ASNO is engaged in informal discussions with regional counterparts on possibilities for increasing cooperation on safeguards matters, and hopes to progress this work during the year.

Work on the operation of Australias bilateral safeguards agreements is ongoing. In the coming year ASNO will participate in nuclear policy discussions with Japan, the ROK and Euratom.  Also there will be technical discussions with ASNOs counterparts on holdings of AONM and on international safeguards issues. Of relevance both to ASNO's bilateral and domestic activities, it is expected that arrangements for the transfer of Silex laser enrichment technology to the US will come into operation, and a determination is likely to be made that Silex is associated technology under the Safeguards Act.

ASNO will be working closely with ANSTO on physical protection aspects of the replacement research reactor project, and will be collaborating with DFAT on international matters associated with this project.

As Australias national authority for the CWC, ASNO will collect national information for, and make declarations to, the OPCW, while facilitating OPCW inspections of relevant facilities in Australia. Similarly, we will strive to strengthen the CWC verification regime by, inter alia, helping to resolve outstanding technical implementation issues, particularly those affecting industry. In conjunction with the OPCW and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute, ASNO will co-host, in May 2001, a regional conference designed to enhance knowledge of the CWC among government and non-government organisations and to promote the peaceful application of chemistry.

Pending the conclusion of negotiations for a protocol to strengthen the BWC (with its attendant national responsibilities and obligations) and formal establishment of a BWC national authority, ASNO will provide technical support to DFAT for the negotiations, which could be concluded in 2000-01.

ASNO will work to ensure that Australias CTBT obligations are met, primarily by coordinating the establishment and operation of Australian stations in the Treatys International Monitoring System. ASNO will also make a significant contribution to development of procedures for the conduct on an On-site Inspection under the CTBT.

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