Annual Report 2005-2006

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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 :: Counter-terrorism :: Addressing WMD threats: counter-proliferation and export controls :: Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament :: Strategic policy and coordination :: Security dialogue and cooperation :: Small arms and light weapons :: National security :: Outlook


Photo - See caption below for description
From left to right: US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice, Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Alexander Downer and Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Taro Aso gather for the inaugural ministerial meeting of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue, held in Sydney on 18 March 2006. Photo: Jason McCormack
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department again led the Government's development and implementation of international counter-terrorism (CT) strategies. We coordinated a major cross-portfolio package of CT assistance to the region and supported the sustained campaign by Mr Downer and other members of the Government to strengthen Australia's most important bilateral and regional counter-terrorism relationships. The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, as the senior official responsible for international advocacy of our CT interests, maintained an active program of regional and international engagement.

Significant achievements included: maintaining the momentum of bilateral CT cooperation with Indonesia; building regional cooperation through successful follow-up to the 2004 Bali Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism; deepening CT cooperation with the Philippines; expanding our network of bilateral CT memorandums of understanding; and providing additional structure and impetus to trilateral CT cooperation with the United States and Japan.

We supported successful efforts to elevate the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) between Australia, Japan and the United States to ministerial level and organised the inaugural ministerial meeting of the TSD in Sydney in March 2006, which Mr Downer hosted. The meeting intensified strategic dialogue among the three countries and reflected shared recognition of the value of greater trilateral cooperation in responding to common security challenges. We worked closely with the Department of Defence and other agencies to identify and pursue practical ways to strengthen Australia's alliance with the United States, including at the annual Australia–United States ministerial meeting held in Adelaide in November 2005 (see sub-output 1.1.3 for more information).

The department advanced the Government's active arms control and counter-proliferation agenda. We undertook a practical, targeted program with regional countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation and build greater capacity to control illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction, materials for use in producing them and their means of delivery. This included our prominent support for the Proliferation Security Initiative, hosting regional events such as the February 2006 Asian Export Controls Policy Dialogue, and organising an ambitious series of bilateral visits and training seminars. In October 2005 we produced and distributed the Government's publication Weapons of mass destruction: Australia's role in fighting proliferation, which boosted domestic and international awareness of contemporary proliferation challenges and the Government's multi-faceted policy approach.

The threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons remained a major focus for the department. Through our role as one of the members of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), we worked to maintain pressure on Iran to comply with its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty safeguards obligations and cooperate fully with the IAEA. We were a leading advocate of the Board's February 2006 Resolution reporting Iran's non-compliance to the UN Security Council. The department contributed to policy advice on the implications of the DPRK's nuclear and ballistic missile programs and to build regional and international responses to the consequent proliferation threat. We again gave a high priority to advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament goals including through our international diplomacy supporting the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and advocating negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

We contributed constructively to international efforts to strengthen controls against the proliferation of conventional weapons, including small arms. The department initiated an international campaign to prevent the transfer of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems to terrorist groups or other non-State actors. Our leading role in antipersonnel landmine action was acknowledged by Australia's election to preside over the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention.


The department led the development and implementation of the Government's international counter-terrorism strategy through our targeted contributions to bilateral, regional and multilateral programs. We focused on strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation in South-East Asia and the Pacific, working to provide long-term and practical assistance. Our efforts are helping to build the capabilities of regional governments in the key areas of law enforcement, border control, intelligence, defence, transport security and terrorist financing.

The department made strong progress in strengthening our most important international partnerships in the fight against terrorism. A significant achievement was to initiate formal consultations for trilateral CT cooperation with the United States and Japan. The department contributed significantly to key multi-agency meetings in Washington and Manila where the three partner governments discussed a range of practical ways to intensify individual and collective counter-terrorism efforts, particularly in relation to border control and port security.

The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism played a lead role in developing and implementing the Government's international CT policies. He led the International Counter-Terrorism Coordination Group, which worked to ensure coherence among Australian counter-terrorist agencies and enhanced cooperation with international partners. The Ambassador's visits to Brussels for discussions with NATO and the European Union and to France, India, Indonesia, Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States helped strengthen dialogue and cooperation with our partners in the fight against terrorism.

The department coordinated the development of a further cross-portfolio package of counter-terrorism assistance for the region, announced in the May 2006 Budget (see box below).

Regional counter-terrorism package

The department coordinated a new cross-portfolio package of counter-terrorism assistance for regional countries that will fund programs worth an additional $92.6 million over the next four years.

Key elements of the package include:

Photo - See caption below for description
Then Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism Les Luck (third from left) visits the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation. Also pictured are (from left) Mr Ben McDevitt AM, APM, the Australian Federal Police’s former National Manager for Counter-Terrorism; Inspector-General Primanto, Governor of the Indonesian Police Academy; Les Luck; Mr Lester Cross, Director of Studies JCLEC; Mr Paulus Purwoko, Director of JCLEC and Mr Ronald Mollinger, Netherlands Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. Photo: Courtesy of JCLEC
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

We worked productively in regional and multilateral bodies, including the ASEAN Regional Forum, APEC, the Pacific Islands Forum, the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group and the United Nations, to build political and technical support for strengthened counter-terrorism efforts. For example, we continued to cooperate with like-minded countries to ensure more terrorists from our region were included on the UN's list of Al Qaida-linked terrorists subjected to sanctions.

The department was closely involved in implementing agreements reached at the landmark Bali Regional Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism held in 2004. We supported the Attorney-General's Department's chairing of the working group established to focus on legal issues. With the Australian Federal Police, we contributed to a second working group dealing with law enforcement issues. We advocated and obtained additional international support for the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, a regional transnational crime training facility.

As well as contributing to strong bilateral cooperation with Indonesia, we took the lead in deepening and widening CT cooperation with the Philippines. Following a decision by ministers at the Philippines–Australia Ministerial Meeting in June 2005, the Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism led Australia's delegation to inaugural multi-agency bilateral counter-terrorism consultations, held in June 2006 in Manila. We held a third meeting of the bilateral counter-terrorism working group with India in February 2006. We expanded our network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding (MOUs), which provide a basis for practical cooperation between Australian agencies and regional counterparts. Our new MOU with Afghanistan in December 2005 brought to twelve the number of such arrangements we have concluded. This range of activity provided a strong platform for building technical capacity in partner countries and for developing ideas to counter terrorist ideology.

Addressing WMD threats: counter-proliferation and export controls

The department continued to give a high priority to supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) as a practical means of impeding trafficking in WMD, their delivery systems and related materials. We helped maintain momentum for increased operational cooperation and won wider support for the PSI from Asia–Pacific partners. At the PSI High Level Political Meeting held in Warsaw in June 2006, we led discussion on how to engage countries that have not yet joined the initiative. We worked closely with the Department of Defence to encourage broad attendance from the Asia–Pacific region at Australia's second PSI exercise 'Pacific Protector 06', held in Darwin in April 2006, and played a central role in the briefing program for exercise observers. The department continued to lead inter-departmental coordination of agencies with an interest in operational aspects of the PSI. Since its inception, regional and global support for the PSI has continued to grow and the initiative has been responsible for a number of important operations that have prevented trafficking in WMD, their delivery systems and related materials.

We maintained an active role in the four major export control regimes—the Australia Group (AG), the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Our contributions focused on advocating widespread adherence to the regimes and ensuring the measures they promoted kept pace with new and emerging proliferation challenges. The exposure of the AQ Khan network in 2004 underlined the threat posed by illicit trafficking in proliferation-sensitive items. In response, the department strongly supported efforts to implement UN Security Council resolution 1540, which requires governments to take measures to address WMD trafficking, and led work in the AG and the MTCR to identify and promote best practice controls on brokering activities.

The department provides both the permanent chair and the secretariat for the Australia Group. Our management of the AG's work over two decades has contributed to its international reputation as an apolitical, issues-driven forum at the forefront of international efforts to prevent the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons. The 2006 AG plenary meeting focused on promoting innovative and practical means to counter emerging proliferation threats such as acquisition or use for terrorism, the rapid spread of WMD production technologies and intangible technology transfers. Thirty-nine countries and the European Union participated. We led discussion on measures to deepen national implementation of obligations arising from the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) and UN Security Council resolution 1540. Outcomes from the June 2006 plenary included: agreement to address the proliferation threat posed by black market brokering activities through a seminar to consider best practice controls on brokers; the addition of three new biological agents and certain types of chemical manufacturing equipment to the agreed AG control lists; and further development of ways to encourage non-AG countries to adopt AG standards.

The department supported efforts to raise regional awareness about the requirements and prohibitions of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions and promote their full implementation. We provided Cambodia with practical assistance to implement its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and participated in a workshop in February 2006 jointly hosted by the Department of Defence and Indonesia to promote regional implementation of the BWC. In the lead-up to the BWC's sixth Review Conference (to take place in late 2006) we worked to settle a forward-looking agenda focused on measures to make the Convention more effective. In May 2006, Australia took up a four-year term on the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which will provide a platform for us to work to strengthen CWC implementation.

Australia's role in fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

In consultation with a range of agencies, the department prepared the Government's publication

Weapons of mass destruction: Australia's role in fighting proliferation, which Mr Downer launched in October 2005.Weapons of mass destruction: Australia's role in fighting proliferation is a comprehensive guide to the extent and nature of the contemporary WMD proliferation threat and sets out the Government's active and multi-dimensional response. It outlines Australia's role at the forefront of international efforts to strengthen the international system of non-proliferation treaties and export control regimes and highlights the need for innovative and practical approaches to combat the spread of WMD.

The publication was well received in the domestic and international media. It has helped to inform discussion on counter-proliferation issues in Australia and to enhance international understanding of Australia's counter-proliferation policies.

The department expanded its practical and focused program of counter-proliferation outreach with regional partners. With support from operational agencies, we provided technical assistance to help improve the implementation of export controls as the first line of defence against proliferation. Following up earlier activities in Thailand and Singapore, we held counter-proliferation workshops in the Philippines, Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates to help those governments improve their capacity to detect and prevent the transfer through their territories of proliferation-sensitive items. To promote mutual understanding and cooperation, the department expanded our dialogue on proliferation issues with China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. We promoted regional adherence to best practice export control standards through our hosting of the Third Asian Export Controls Policy Dialogue in Canberra in February 2006. The meeting formally recognised the desirability of harmonising national export controls through the adoption of measures promoted by the international export control regimes. We used Australia's existing membership of key regional forums such as APEC and the ASEAN Regional Forum to increase the political momentum for more cohesive regional responses to proliferation threats.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

The department worked to advance our nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament goals. In July 2005 we facilitated Mr Downer's participation in a joint declaration with the foreign ministers of Chile, Indonesia, Norway, Romania, South Africa and the United Kingdom on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to focus attention on these issues at the UN World Summit in September 2005. The declaration showed the common resolve of a diverse range of countries to confront nuclear threats in a decisive manner. Although the Summit outcome did not meet our expectations in this area, Australia's position attracted strong international support.

Widespread international concern over the nuclear programs of Iran and the DPRK has highlighted challenges to the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. We presented Government concerns about Iran's nuclear program directly to the Iranian Government and acted firmly through the IAEA Board of Governors to encourage Iran's compliance with its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations. We supported the decision by the Board of Governors to report Iran's non-compliance to the UN Security Council. The department delivered strong messages to the DPRK regime in favour of its return to compliance with the NPT and IAEA safeguards obligations. We consulted closely with allies to ensure unified messages to the DPRK.

We coordinated international efforts aimed at getting closer to the number of country ratifications required for entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In September 2005 the department supported Mr Downer's chairing of a conference of CTBT states parties on ways to accelerate entry into force. The conference sent a clear signal of support for the CTBT, although entry into force remains a distant goal. We welcomed Vietnam's ratification of the CTBT which we had sought as part of our persistent regional advocacy. We were also in the vanguard of those pushing for negotiation of a treaty to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons—a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). We welcomed the US decision to table an FMCT negotiating text, although entrenched differences in the UN Conference on Disarmament continue to impede our objective of beginning FMCT negotiations.

In support of Australia's non-proliferation goals and interests as a major uranium exporter, we have followed closely the development of new international initiatives that seek to limit the spread of proliferation-sensitive nuclear technologies and ensure that enrichment and reprocessing activities are strictly for peaceful purposes. Current proposals in this area include a multilateral mechanism for guaranteeing reliable access to nuclear fuel, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership proposed by the United States, and Russia's proposal to establish international centres to provide nuclear fuel cycle services.

Strategic policy and coordination

Australia's alliance with the United States remains crucial to Australia's security and plays a significant role in the maintenance of strategic stability in the Asia–Pacific region. In a range of high-level and officials dialogues, we used our strong ties with the US administration to ensure the alliance responded effectively to contemporary security challenges, including international terrorism and the proliferation of WMD and missile technology.

We worked closely with the Department of Defence on a range of issues concerning the alliance. We contributed to the negotiation of the bilateral memorandum of understanding on the Joint Combined Training Centre. The MOU, which was adopted at the Australia–US ministerial meeting (AUSMIN) in Adelaide in November 2005, will enhance military interoperability. We helped negotiate an annex on research, development, test and evaluation to the bilateral memorandum of understanding on Ballistic Missile Defence, which ministers signed at the 2005 AUSMIN. We continued working for improved Australian access to US information and military technology.

The department provided regular input to inter-departmental consideration of defence export control issues. We provided advice on the foreign policy dimensions of specific export applications and supported proposals to strengthen the framework and processes for inter-agency consideration of defence and dual-use export cases.

Security dialogue and cooperation

The department organised the inaugural Trilateral Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting, attended by Mr Downer, the US Secretary of State and the Foreign Minister of Japan in Sydney in March 2006. We provided extensive support to Mr Downer as chairman of the meeting, including by negotiating a joint statement expressing participants' common cause in working to maintain stability and security in the Asia–Pacific region and more broadly. The ministerial TSD explored scope for practical trilateral cooperation in areas where the three countries can add value, including counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation and disaster relief.

We continued to promote Australia's security interests through a program of bilateral security dialogues with key partners in the Asia–Pacific region and in Europe. In 2005–06, Australia held inaugural security talks with Malaysia and Turkey and further rounds of dialogue with the United States, India, France, Germany, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. We finalised plans for talks with China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and Russia and for an expanded security dialogue with Singapore. These talks help strengthen mutual understanding and build a platform for cooperation on security issues of common concern.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) remains the region's primary and most inclusive forum for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation. We supported Mr Downer's participation in the July 2005 Vientiane ARF Ministerial meeting, which adopted a statement on 'Information Sharing and Intelligence Exchange and Document Integrity and Security in Enhancing Cooperation to Combat Terrorism and Transnational Crimes,' which expressed a common commitment to enhance cooperation in these areas. Consistent with the Government's objectives at ARF officials' meetings, we advocated a continuing focus on the international terrorist threat, maritime security and other areas of shared concern including arms control and WMD proliferation. We urged ARF members to maintain a firm line on the DPRK nuclear problem. We continued to encourage the ARF to develop a greater role as a practical and responsive security institution, including by working for consensus on a 'friends of the ARF Chair' mechanism to support the ARF's preventive diplomacy role.

In close cooperation with the Department of Defence, we participated in ARF efforts to deal with non-traditional security threats, including natural disasters. To this end Australia and the Philippines co-chaired an ARF workshop on civil-military cooperation in Manila in September 2005. We also made a major contribution to the outcomes of an ARF Intersessional Meeting on Disaster Relief in Indonesia in November 2005, promoting a greater role for cooperation through the ARF. We agreed to co-chair with Vietnam an ARF meeting on civil-military responses to pandemics, and with Thailand a workshop on stockpile security of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) and other small arms and light weapons.

Small arms and light weapons

The department contributed to regional and international small arms control initiatives. With New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, Australia produced a position paper providing a South Pacific perspective on the problem of small arms proliferation. The paper was endorsed by the Pacific Islands Forum Regional Security Committee and circulated at the first conference to review progress in the Implementation of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects held in New York in June 2006. The paper ensured that our region's concerns—including the difficulty of some Pacific island countries in meeting their obligations under the Programme of Action—were prominent at the Review Conference. Working closely with other agencies, the department led Australia's participation at the Review Conference and ensured that the discussions reflected Government policy and national practices.

The department promoted the effectiveness of international controls and standards to minimise the humanitarian impact of conventional weapons, including through our advocacy of practical measures to implement relevant multilateral conventional weapons treaties. Our leading role in mine action was acknowledged by Australia's election by acclamation as the President of the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention.

National security

The department continued to make an important contribution to whole of government approaches to domestic security issues by providing input on related foreign and international security policy dimensions, particularly concerning offshore maritime security and aviation security. To protect Australia's offshore oil and gas platforms and enhance security measures in Australia's maritime zones, we consulted closely with neighbours such as Indonesia and East Timor. In aviation security, we worked closely with the Australian Federal Police and the Attorney-General's Department to expand our network of agreements to permit Air Security Officers on international civilian flights to and from Australia.

The department led the Government's efforts to encourage strengthened international controls over the manufacture, storage and transfer of MANPADS and related technologies (see box below).

Australia's international campaign on MANPADS

In December 2005 Mr Downer announced that the Government would begin a concerted campaign to strengthen international export and other control standards for Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) and related technologies. The goal of the three-year initiative is to prevent terrorists and other non-state groups from acquiring these weapons.

Shoulder-fired surface-to-air weapons pose a serious threat to civil aviation. Terrorists have already used them in attacks against commercial jet aircraft. A successful MANPADS attack could cause significant loss of life and have substantial economic repercussions by disrupting aviation and tourism industries.

We have already taken up our concerns through relevant UN bodies. In 2005, the United Nations General Assembly again adopted by consensus an Australian-led resolution on preventing the illicit transfer of MANPADS.

Australia is using its position as the 2006 Chair of the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies (WA) to increase awareness of the MANPADS threat and the need for more effective export controls. Other WA Participating States have supported the Chair's dedicated outreach to encourage greater cooperation, including from states that produce, export or stockpile MANPADS.

The department is organising a series of international seminars focused on countering the MANPADS threat and building a regional commitment for practical measures against illicit MANPADS proliferation.

In helping to shape and implement the national security agenda, the department continued to support portfolio ministers' participation in meetings of the National Security Committee of Cabinet and to participate in the major strategic policy coordination bodies including the Secretaries Committee on National Security. We participated in a range of whole of government national security and related processes, including the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, security planning for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and a major domestic counter-terrorism exercise, Mercury 05, to practise national counter-terrorism arrangements in advance of the Commonwealth Games. The department facilitated the international observer program for Mercury 05—involving over 70 participants from 23 allied, regional and other countries—as part of Australia's cooperative international engagement in the fight against terrorism.

The department contributed to whole of government work on international intelligence policy, including in implementing relevant recommendations of the Flood Report into Australian intelligence agencies and enhancing cooperation with key allies on intelligence sharing. We streamlined procedures for disseminating intelligence reporting within the department to better manage increased intelligence flows and to convey to the Australian intelligence community the department's information requirements. These procedures helped the department fulfil its role of providing policy advice to government. We continued to collaborate closely with the Australian intelligence community and other agencies in monitoring terrorism and other threats to Australian citizens and interests overseas, ensuring the Government could respond quickly and effectively.


The department will explore and develop new opportunities for trilateral cooperation with the United States and Japan and support further TSD ministerial meetings. We will continue to strengthen Australia's alliance with the United States, in recognition of our national interests.

The department will maintain its lead role in countering terrorism in our region. For example, we plan to co-host two important meetings—a Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism with Indonesia and the third trilateral meeting on counter-terrorism with the US and Japan—to advance practical counter-terrorism measures. Using increased resources announced in the 2006 Budget, we will work to strengthen measures against potential terrorist acquisition of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities, enhance emergency response capabilities and develop new responses to the subversive and ideological dimensions of the terrorist threat. We will continue to work with other agencies to enhance Australia's maritime and aviation security, including by expanding the network of Air Security Officers and collaborating with Asia–Pacific partners to strengthen controls against illicit MANPADS transfers.

We will maintain our active role in the Proliferation Security Initiative and work collaboratively with regional countries to provide practical assistance to improve controls on the illicit trade in proliferation-sensitive materials. To strengthen our counter-proliferation cooperation with regional countries, the department will organise or support a number of specific bilateral and regional events including a UN seminar in China to promote implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1540.

The department will contribute to preparations for the eighth NPT Review Conference and continue to take a leading role in promoting entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We will provide input to the Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review announced by the Prime Minister in June 2006.

Our participation in the ARF will remain a priority, although significant progress towards practical security cooperation under ARF auspices will take time.

In close cooperation with the Australian NGO community and other agencies, we will continue to lay the ground for an efficient and outcome-focused meeting of states parties to the Mine-Ban Convention.

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