Annual Report 2004-2005

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Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > 1.1.8 Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia's international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

1.1.8 Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation

On this page: Overview :: Strategic policy and coordination :: Security dialogue and cooperation :: Counter-terrorism and national security :: Counter-proliferation and export controls :: Non-proliferation, compliance and verification


The department successfully built on Australia's contribution to global counterterrorism efforts, with a strong focus on South-East Asia.

We extended Australia's network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding while working closely with other agencies to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation and dialogue with countries in our region. The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism coordinated the further development of international counter-terrorism policies and activities and publication of the Government's Terrorism White Paper. The department contributed to outcomes across the national security agenda, including counter-terrorism exercises and transport security initiatives, and continued to work closely with intelligence and security agencies in responding to reports of terrorist threats and activities.

We continued to promote Australia's security interests through a program of bilateral security and strategic dialogues with partners in the Asia–Pacific region and beyond. These dialogues provided important opportunities to convey Australia's views on international security and strategic issues of common concern, as well as to explain to regional countries Australia's policies on important US alliance issues. Developing and strengthening the alliance relationship with the United States remained a priority.

The department was active in defending and strengthening multilateral non-proliferation regimes. We worked to uphold the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime at the May 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and in other forums. We pressed Iran to resolve international concerns about its nuclear program and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to reverse its announced withdrawal from the NPT and return to full compliance with the Treaty.

We played a prominent part in advancing the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as a practical means of impeding trafficking in Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials. Our efforts were principally directed at ensuring the operational effectiveness of the initiative and encouraging greater participation in and support for PSI activities, especially in the Asia–Pacific region. We worked closely with other Australian agencies and regional partners to improve practical barriers against proliferation and to meet the emerging challenges of secondary proliferation and increasingly sophisticated procurement activity.

The department provided the permanent chair and Secretariat of the Australia Group—the export control regime dedicated to preventing the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. We organised the annual Australia Group Plenary in Sydney in April 2005—marking the Group's twentieth anniversary—and set a forward looking agenda for the Group. We stepped up our regional outreach program to build a wider appreciation of the dangers of WMD proliferation and to provide assistance with the development and application of best practice WMD export controls. Outreach was conducted both at the bilateral level, including with the Philippines and Thailand, and through regional activities such as the ministerial Asia–Pacific Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference, hosted by Australia in Sydney in November 2004.

Strategic policy and coordination

Photo - See caption below for description
The 2005 Plenary of the Australia Group, marking the 20th anniversary of the Group, was held in Sydney in April 2005. The Australia Group includes 39 countries, plus the European Commission, which work to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons. Photo: Dominique B. Werner
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In meeting the challenges posed by the dynamic international security environment, the department continued to give the highest priority to the development and strengthening of the alliance relationship with the United States. The alliance continues to be crucial to Australia's security and plays a significant role in the maintenance of strategic stability in the Asia–Pacific region. We engaged energetically with key figures in the US administration to ensure that the alliance responded to the contemporary security environment, including the threat posed by terrorism and the increased incidence of proliferation of WMD and missile technology. Our close operational relationship with the US military proved invaluable in coordinating humanitarian operations in response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.

The department worked closely with the Australian Department of Defence on several major alliance-related developments, such as the US global force posture review which seeks a major re-alignment of US bases and forces overseas. We contributed to the negotiation of a research, development, test and evaluation annex to our bilateral memorandum of understanding on missile defence cooperation, and continued work to improve Australian access to US information and military technology.

In ensuring the integrity of Australia's export control framework, the department engaged closely with the Department of Defence to strengthen review mechanisms for the assessment of export applications of defence and related goods. We monitored

changes to other countries' export control regimes and advised the Government on implications for national and regional security.

We contributed to whole of government work on key intelligence policy and related issues, including those flowing from the Government's endorsement of the recommendations of the Flood Report into Australian intelligence agencies. We streamlined procedures for dissemination of intelligence reporting within the department to better manage increased flows of this material.

Security dialogue and cooperation

The department continued to promote Australia's security interests through a program of bilateral security dialogues with key partners in the Asia–Pacific region and Europe, and with institutions such as the European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). In 2004–05, Australia held strategic dialogues with the United Kingdom, India, Russia and Thailand, and finalised arrangements for an inaugural security dialogue with Malaysia. The talks enhanced mutual understanding of security perceptions and enabled us to present Australia's views on security and strategic issues of common concern, as well as to explain Australia's policies on important alliance issues in our relationship with the United States.

The May 2005 decision to upgrade the trilateral security dialogue with Japan and the United States to ministerial level reflected the strength of our shared interests in international security and cooperation across a broad range of issues. The department has supported this dialogue since its inception in August 2003 and, together with our missions in Washington and Tokyo, has worked to maintain its momentum and ensure a focus on current strategic issues of importance to Australia, such as Iraq, counterterrorism and WMD proliferation issues.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) remains the region's pre-eminent forum for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation. We supported the ARF's continuing focus on the international terrorist threat and on other areas of shared concern, including arms control and WMD proliferation. We urged ARF members to maintain a firm approach to the DPRK nuclear problem.

We used ARF meetings to highlight our concerns about terrorist activity in and movement between South-East Asian countries. We strongly supported the ARF's growing focus on maritime security and encouraged the development of related confidence-building measures. We continued to contribute to these activities and—in keeping with our view that the ARF should have the capacity to respond in a meaningful way to regional security issues—to encourage heightened emphasis by the ARF on preventive diplomacy. Significant progress against these issues will take time.

The department participated in the ARF's efforts to respond to non-traditional security threats, including those arising from natural disasters such as the December 2004 tsunami. In this context, we supported the revival of the ARF Intersessional Meeting on Disaster Relief. The inaugural ARF Security Policy Conference held in Beijing was a positive development in building confidence and transparency among regional defence forces. The department continues to use this forum to strengthen regional defence dialogue.

Counter-terrorism and national security

The department led efforts across a range of government agencies to strengthen counter-terrorism engagement with regional countries. We focused on building the capabilities of regional governments in key sectors such as law enforcement, border control, intelligence, defence, transport security and counter-terrorist financing. These efforts were underpinned by an expanding network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding (MOUs). The department negotiated MOUs with Brunei and Pakistan, bringing to eleven the number of such arrangements concluded with countries in our region.

At the regional and global levels we were active in building political and technical support for strengthened counter-terrorism efforts. We continued to advance counterterrorism objectives in regional forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum, APEC and the Pacific Islands Forum by pressing other governments to do more to ensure sustained and coordinated efforts to combat the regional terrorist threat. We contributed to efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations' counterterrorism mechanisms, including by expanding the list of Jemaah Islamiyah and other Al Qaida-linked terrorists subject to UN sanctions. We further bolstered counterterrorism ties with the ten ASEAN countries by concluding a Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, and leading the first two rounds of a new counter-terrorism and transnational crime dialogue with senior ASEAN officials.

The department played a central role in taking forward outcomes of the Bali Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism, which Mr Downer co-chaired with his Indonesian counterpart in February 2004. We provided close support to the Attorney-General's Department as chair of the working group established subsequently to deal with counter-terrorism legal issues—including that department's hosting of the group's inaugural meeting in Canberra in August 2004.

With the Australian Federal Police (AFP), we contributed to the efforts of a second working group dealing with law enforcement issues. We worked closely with the AFP in establishing and strengthening, with Indonesia, a significant regional counter-terrorism facility—the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). JCLEC has already attracted wide international participation and support through the department's efforts to encourage and promote the Centre's activities and development.

The department coordinated the development of a further cross-portfolio package of counter-terrorism assistance for regional countries, announced in the May 2005 Budget (see box below). In strengthening our network of regional counter-terrorism partnerships, we played a key role in overseeing the implementation of a previous region-wide counter-terrorism assistance package, along with expanded programs for bilateral counter-terrorism cooperation with Indonesia ($20 million) and the Philippines ($10 million).

Regional counter-terrorism package

The department worked closely with other Australian agencies to identify options for further engagement with the region on counter-terrorism issues. We coordinated a new package of counter-terrorism assistance for regional countries—particularly in South-East Asia—worth an additional $40.3 million over the next four years.

The new measures were announced as part of the 2005–06 Budget and will build on successful regional cooperation in law enforcement, border and transport security, intelligence and legal affairs. The measures include:

The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism played a lead role in developing and implementing the Government's international policies in these areas, including overseeing the production of the Government's White Paper on Terrorism (see box below). The Ambassador advanced Australia's engagement with the region on counterterrorism issues through his role as chair of the multi-agency International Counter-Terrorism Coordination Group (ICTCG), which progressed Australia's comprehensive whole of government international counter-terrorism efforts, such as development of the regional counter-terrorism assistance package.

By conducting extensive visits to countries in our region and beyond, the Ambassador helped strengthen dialogue and cooperation with key partners in the fight against terrorism, including through major events such as the Counter-Terrorism International Conference in Riyadh in February 2005.

Terrorism White Paper: the threat and our response

The department led the inter-agency effort that produced the Government's White Paper Transnational terrorism: The threat to Australia, published in July 2004.

The White Paper provided an authoritative assessment of the contemporary terrorist threat, concluding that terrorism is a long-term challenge requiring a highly coordinated international response. The White Paper outlined Australia's multi-faceted response to terrorism internationally and underlined Australia's strong commitment to greater cooperation with regional partners, traditional allies and other members of the global community. It helped inform the public debate about transnational terrorism and projected a clear Australian analysis of the threat, and the necessary response, to our international partners. It reflected the Government's high priority on keeping the public fully informed of the threat of terrorism to Australia's interests.

The department continued to work, with other key agencies, to strengthen Australia's overseas counter-terrorism response arrangements. In concert with the Department of Defence, we organised an international counter-terrorism exercise with Thailand in July 2004, and followed this up with a multi-agency bilateral counter-terrorism response seminar in Bangkok in December 2004. We contributed to planning for two further counter-terrorism exercises overseas, in the Pacific region and in Cambodia, although neither exercise has taken place as yet. These practical initiatives help to enhance bilateral and regional cooperation against terrorist threats and attacks, building capacity among regional partners to improve their ability to tackle terrorism and transnational crime.

We participated in a range of whole of government national security and related processes, including the National Counter-Terrorism Committee and the major domestic counter-terrorism exercise series (Mercury). The department ensured that Australia's international interests were factored in to consideration of domestic security issues, to ensure seamless alignment between our international and domestic counter-terrorism policies and processes.

In this same vein, we contributed closely to the development of Australia's new offshore maritime security regime announced by the Prime Minister in December 2004. We arranged, through our posts abroad, to brief more than 50 countries (and several regional and international organisations) on the new arrangements— particularly the proposed Australian Maritime Identification System, which is a

framework for seeking, analysing and managing information on vessel identity, crews, cargoes and ship movements to support Australia's maritime security needs. We assisted Mr Downer in updating our neighbours, particularly Indonesia and East Timor, on developments and, with other agencies, will continue to consult and cooperate with both countries to implement the arrangements.

The department and other agencies contributed to Australia's aviation security through continued work with like-minded partners—bilaterally and through regional organisations including APEC—in developing practical initiatives to prevent the proliferation of shoulder-launched missiles (MANPADS—Man-Portable Air Defence Systems—see below), which could pose a threat to commercial airliners. We also lent strong support to the regional activities of other agencies, particularly the Department of Transport and Regional Services, aimed at strengthening our neighbours' aviation security regimes. With the AFP, Attorney-General's Department and others, we helped to take forward discussions with several South-East Asian countries on possible bilateral Air Security Officer (sky marshal) arrangements, as an extra layer of Australian aviation security.

We continued to collaborate closely with the Australian intelligence community and other agencies, in particular the National Threat Assessment Centre, in monitoring terrorism and other threats to Australian citizens and interests, ensuring the Government was in a position to respond quickly and effectively.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

The department advanced the effectiveness of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), established in 2003 as a practical and informal arrangement among countries to cooperate in disrupting illicit WMD-related trade. The department continued to take the lead in coordinating inter-agency support for the initiative and participation in PSI activities. We participated in three meetings of PSI operational experts and were instrumental in achieving our key aim of broadening regional participation in PSI activities. For example, the department worked closely with the Department of Defence in hosting a meeting of PSI operational experts in Sydney on 30 November– 2 December 2004 at which participants endorsed a regional approach to PSI activities. The department continued efforts to raise awareness of, and expand support for, the PSI by conducting outreach in the Asia–Pacific region.

The department facilitated Australia's active participation in the four major export control regimes—the Australia Group (see box below), the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime. Australia's contributions focused on advocating widespread adherence to the regimes and reinforcing agreed standards for trade in sensitive items.

The department promoted adherence to global non-proliferation norms through an active counter-proliferation outreach program, cooperating with other agencies and with partner countries in delivering practical technical assistance to key regional trading countries. This helped them meet obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1540, which obliges all countries to enforce rigorous national export controls.

Joint training activities supported by the department included: counter-proliferation and safeguards training for Thai government and industry representatives in partnership with the United States; and WMD-related commodity identification training for Singapore Customs in partnership with the United States and Japan. The department also worked with Indonesia and the Philippines to encourage those countries to identify shortfalls in export control performance.

Marking twenty years of the Australia Group

Australia is permanent chair of the Australia Group, a body dedicated to preventing the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons through export controls. The department marked the Group's twentieth anniversary by organising the annual Australia Group Plenary in Sydney in April 2005—the first time the meeting has been held in Australia.

The Plenary was opened by Mr Downer, chaired by a departmental representative and attended by over 170 international delegates and a large multi-agency Australian delegation. The Plenary recognised the important contribution of the Group in controlling the spread of chemical and biological weapons for 20 years. Guided by Australia, the Plenary set a forward-looking agenda for the Group, addressing challenges such as the terrorist threat; controls on the activities of brokers and distributors; the use of transhipment or re-export of goods to conceal their end-use; emerging technologies with potential WMD applications; and intangible transfers of technology.

The Plenary secured a number of important outcomes to improve the effectiveness of the Australia Group export control lists in preventing illegal trade in dual-use chemical and biological items. Participants agreed to welcome Ukraine to the Group, bringing total participation to 39 countries plus the European Commission.

To encourage broader adherence to Australia Group measures, outreach strategies based on targeted regional approaches were further developed. Participants agreed to introduce a secure electronic communications system to improve the effectiveness and timeliness of their information-sharing.

Working closely with other agencies, the department coordinated the visa screening process under Public Interest Criterion 4003(b) of the Migration Regulations. This process is integral to assessing the WMD proliferation risk posed by individuals seeking to enter Australia and, where necessary, requesting a ministerial decision to prevent their entry.

Non-proliferation, compliance and verification

The department supported Australia's interest in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and advancing nuclear disarmament at the May 2005 NPT Review Conference. We contributed actively to the efforts at the conference to agree to measures to strengthen the NPT in the face of current challenges, such as Iran's nuclear program and the DPRK's announced withdrawal from the NPT.

However, disagreement over the Treaty's priorities meant that the necessary consensus to adopt such measures could not be established. Mr Downer announced at the NPT Review Conference that Australia intended to make the Additional Protocol on strengthened IAEA safeguards a condition for the supply of Australian uranium to non-nuclear weapon states—the first country to do so. The department also coordinated a range of community outreach activities to support our participation in the NPT Review Conference.

The department played the lead role in Australian efforts to improve measures to limit the spread of sensitive nuclear technology. We were prominent in efforts to secure a start to negotiation of the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, which would ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. However, differences among members of the Conference on Disarmament remain an impediment to negotiations.

Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference fosters regional cooperation

In November 2004, Mr Downer hosted the Asia–Pacific Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference in Sydney. The conference was attended by ministers or their representatives from 18 regional countries. IAEA Director General ElBaradei delivered a keynote address.

The conference provided new opportunities for regional engagement on nuclear safeguards and security issues. It underlined the common interest of all Asia–Pacific countries in combating nuclear proliferation and protecting against the threat of nuclear terrorism. Participants agreed to work together in a sustained and comprehensive effort to enhance the nuclear safeguards and security framework.

The conference statement emphasised that application of the highest international standards of nuclear safeguards and security supports national and regional security. Among the priorities identified by participants were:

The conference was a practical example of Australia's strong commitment to working with regional countries to combat nuclear weapons proliferation and the emerging threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism.

The department worked to counter challenges to the compliance and verification mechanisms in the NPT, the IAEA and in other multilateral and regional forums and bilaterally. There was no progress on reversing the DPRK's announced withdrawal from the NPT and its non-compliance with its safeguards obligations—the seriousness of which was underlined by the DPRK's statement in February 2005 that it had manufactured nuclear weapons. We contributed to concerted international efforts to convince Iran to maintain suspension of its uranium enrichment-related and plutonium separation activities. Through ministerial and diplomatic contacts, we continued to emphasise to Iran that it must cooperate fully with the IAEA to resolve outstanding questions about its nuclear program.

Australia maintained its support for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) through ongoing development of the CTBT's verification mechanisms and representations to countries yet to sign or ratify the CTBT, in support of the treaty's entry into force. In view of Australia's forthcoming role as coordinator of the 2005 Article XIV Conference on facilitating the CTBT's entry into force, the department has been actively engaged in preparations for the conference to be held in New York in September 2005.

We worked to further the objectives of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) three-year work program agreed at the 2002 Review Conference. The department made a significant contribution to the February 2005 regional workshop on the BWC, hosted by the Department of Defence and attended by ASEAN states parties to the BWC, as well as Papua New Guinea and New Zealand. The workshop helped to build capacity for national implementation of the BWC work program.

The department supported efforts to achieve full adherence to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in our region. In addition to counter-proliferation outreach activity in Singapore on WMD-related commodity identification, the department assisted the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to deliver a June 2005 seminar in Papua New Guinea to help that country meet its CWC obligations.

Photo - See caption below for description
Left to right: CPL Todd Williams, Australian Defence Force; Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade Mr Bruce Billson (who is also Australia's Special Representative on Mine Action); David Stuart, First Assistant Secretary, International Security Division. CPL Williams is explaining the workings of a mine to Mr Billson and Mr Stuart. Mr Billson launched Landmine Action Week at DFAT on 24 May 2005.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department led Australia's initiative as major sponsor of UN General Assembly Resolution 59/90, which called on states to prevent the illicit transfer and unauthorised access to and use of MANPADS. Adopted by consensus in December 2004, the resolution is the first global standard for this weapon type.

We played an active role in international and regional small arms control initiatives, focusing on practical cooperation with Pacific island countries. Australia supported efforts in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) to assist member countries implement model weapons control legislation developed earlier with Australian assistance. In particular, the department coordinated Australia's co-hosting, with Japan and the UN, of a PIF small arms and light weapons workshop in Fiji in August 2004. Working closely with other agencies, the department led Australia's participation in UN negotiations for an international instrument on the marking and tracing of illicit small arms and light weapons. The text of the instrument, adopted by consensus in June 2005, reflects Australia's interests and national practices.

The department, together with our overseas missions, worked to ensure that multilateral conventional weapons treaties were practical and effective in limiting harm to civilians. We played a central role in the negotiations for a new protocol to the Inhumane Weapons Convention which will reduce civilian casualties caused by anti-vehicle mines. The department supported Australia's active role at the Ottawa Landmines Convention, including through our contribution to the first Review Conference of the Convention, held in December 2004 in Nairobi. The department cooperated closely with the Australian NGO community and regional partners to promote adherence to the Landmine Convention among South-East Asian and Pacific countries yet to sign on. As a result of departmental efforts, in May 2005 Australia announced the donation of mine detectors to a Turkish-led NATO Partnership for Peace Program to clear unexploded ordnance in Azerbaijan—the first non-NATO country to make such a contribution.

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