Annual Report 2006-2007

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Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > 1.1.10 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

1.1.10 Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation

On this page: Overview :: Counter-terrorism :: Addressing WMD threats: Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament :: Counter-proliferation and export controls :: Strategic policy and coordination :: Security dialogue and cooperation :: National security :: Outlook


The department strengthened its role as the primary coordinator of the Government’s international counter-terrorism strategies, which have a strong focus on South-East Asia and the Pacific. The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, as the senior official responsible for international advocacy of Australia’s counter-terrorism interests, engaged with regional and international partners to advance those strategies.

We implemented a range of new counter-terrorism activities in the region, particularly relating to countering radicalisation, keeping chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) weapons out of the hands of terrorists, and protecting civil aviation. Significant achievements included: strengthening counter-terrorism cooperation with Indonesia and the Philippines; co-hosting a Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism; hosting the third Trilateral Counter-Terrorism Consultations with Japan and the United States; hosting the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Combating Nuclear Terrorism; and advancing Australia’s Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS) initiative.

The department continued to give priority to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. We worked for progress on all three pillars of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): non-proliferation; nuclear disarmament; and peaceful use of nuclear energy. We vigorously encouraged the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and continued to pursue a start to negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty.

We helped ensure the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) received a strong message from the international community that its ballistic missile tests in July 2006 and nuclear test in October 2006 were unacceptable. As a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, Australia put pressure on Iran to comply with its NPT safeguards obligations, cooperate fully with the IAEA, and suspend uranium enrichment. We strongly supported a more active United Nations Security Council role on non-proliferation issues.

Australia continued to strengthen international barriers against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery, and other sensitive conventional weapons, through participation in the major export control regimes. A program of outreach activities in the Asia-Pacific region achieved greater awareness of and helped build capacity on counter-proliferation issues. We achieved increased support for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to enhance its ability to impede illicit WMD-related transfers.

Under the auspices of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD), the department continued to advance practical trilateral cooperation between Australia, Japan and the United States in areas such as counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. With the Department of Defence, we made good progress in building momentum in trilateral defence cooperation. We contributed to successful efforts to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the United States. In the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), we won strong support for co-hosting with Indonesia a future desktop exercise on disaster relief.


Photo - See caption below for description
Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism: Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer (sitting right), and Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Hassan Wirajuda (sitting left), discuss counter-terrorism issues with Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Mr Bill Farmer AO (second from right), and Dr Desra Percaya (second from left), Indonesian Department of Foreign Affairs, in Jakarta, March 2007.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department led the Government’s international counter-terrorism programs by coordinating Australian agencies’ contributions, and participating extensively in a range of bilateral and multilateral activities. Australia’s capacity-building assistance continued to focus on practical and sustained support for regional countries, particularly Indonesia and the Philippines, in key areas such as law enforcement, intelligence, border control, transport and maritime security, defence, terrorist financing and counter-radicalisation.

We made strong progress in furthering our most important international partnerships in the fight against terrorism. In March 2007, Australia co-hosted with Indonesia a Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism, bringing together our key regional partners to advance our collective capacity to counter terrorism (see box on page 128). We also strengthened trilateral counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States and Japan, including by hosting the third round of multi-agency talks in June 2007, which agreed on new capacity-building projects in South-East Asia.

The department worked productively in regional and multilateral forums, including the ARF, APEC, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF), the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group and the United Nations, to build political and technical support for more effective counter-terrorism efforts. We also contributed to whole of government efforts to implement Australia’s international counter-terrorism obligations through UN listings of banned terrorist groups and anti-financing sanctions, and through support for criminal code listings within Australia.

The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism continued to strengthen international dialogue and cooperation on counter-terrorism, particularly on strategies to counter terrorist propaganda. Consultations with key regional and bilateral partners secured additional support for initiatives such as the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation, which has held 90 courses for more than 2000 regional law enforcement officers. The Ambassador led the International Counter-Terrorism Coordination Group, which brings together over a dozen Australian agencies working on international counter-terrorism issues. He also intensified the department’s engagement with Australia’s business and academic communities on international counter-terrorism issues.

We expanded our network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to include Turkey. Australia now has 13 MOUs that provide a basis for practical cooperation between Australian agencies and partner governments. Under the MOU with Cambodia, for example, we organised a Counter-Terrorism Discussion Exercise in Phnom Penh in 2007 aimed at improving local officials’ capacity to respond to a terrorist attack.

To help strengthen national counter-terrorism response mechanisms, the department published the International Counter-Terrorism Handbook, which aims to help government officials develop and implement whole of government responses to an overseas counter-terrorism incident affecting Australia.

The department used some of the additional funding from the 2006–07 Budget ($35 million over four years) to work with regional governments, non-government organisations and mainstream community groups to undertake a range of activities to promote tolerance and mutual understanding among communities in our region, and to counteract extremist ideology and propaganda.

We conducted regional research to enhance understanding of attitudes on issues such as democracy, politically motivated violence and extremist ideology. We facilitated visits by academics, journalists and community leaders to Australia and within the region. In January and June 2007, we conducted media courses to promote balanced reporting on terrorism and conflict issues. We also funded grassroots interfaith activities to strengthen links between communities affected by conflict (see box on page 129).

Australia joined the newly established Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism in July 2006 as an initial partner country. In May 2007, we hosted the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Combating Nuclear Terrorism, the first dedicated activity under the Global Initiative’s work plan. The seminar raised awareness of the Global Initiative, identified capacity-building opportunities, and helped build a network of regional experts.

The department developed and began implementing a strategy to counter international bioterrorism. The strategy involves partners such as health and agriculture officials in developing innovative ways to combat deliberate disease outbreaks. In May 2007, we sponsored the participation of 12 technical experts from South-East Asia in a bio-safety and biosecurity training workshop, which helped strengthen understanding about the bioterrorism threat and the means to counter it.

The department led the MANPADS initiative, which seeks to improve international civilian aviation security by encouraging regional countries to strengthen export controls and stockpile management of MANPADS to prevent their illicit use by terrorists and other non-state groups. We used our 2006 Chairmanship of the Vienna-based Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual Use Goods and Technologies to build support for action on MANPADS, particularly among Asia-Pacific states. We also hosted or co-chaired several international MANPADS seminars, including an information seminar in New York in January 2007 and an export controls seminar in Singapore in June 2007. The department also contributed to progress in negotiations to expand the Air Security Officer program, which helps protect flights to and from Australia.

Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism

The department coordinated Australia’s significant contribution to the Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism, co-hosted by Mr Downer and Indonesian Foreign Minister Wirajuda in Jakarta in March 2007.

The Conference brought together foreign ministers, justice ministers, police chiefs and senior officials from the six countries most immediately affected by the threat from regional terrorist groups–Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

The meeting built on the outcomes of the 2004 Bali Ministerial Meeting on Counter-Terrorism and focused on practical measures to further strengthen cooperation to counter-terrorism in the subregion.

Outcomes included an agreement to follow up activities in the key areas of:

Strengthening Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding

The Strengthening Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding (SGIDU) program is a small grants scheme implemented through the Australian embassy in Manila to support peace-building activities by community groups and non-government organisations at the grassroots level in the Philippines.

The scheme focuses on activities that contribute directly to strengthening tolerance, mutual understanding and acceptance between communities of different faiths and promoting peace-building and anti-violence messages. It also emphasises practical and participatory activities, and many projects focus on mobilising women and youth.

Seventeen projects are currently being implemented at a cost of approximately $200 000. Most of these projects are located in conflict-affected areas in central and western Mindanao, including the Zamboanga peninsula and the Sulu archipelago, with some in Metro Manila.


Addressing WMD threats: Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

The department worked to maintain the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and address current proliferation challenges, particularly those posed by the nuclear programs of the DPRK and Iran.

We contributed to the strong message sent to the DPRK following its October 2006 nuclear test, notably at the 2006 UN General Assembly where the Australian-led resolution on the CTBT condemned the DPRK test. As a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, we firmly supported efforts to secure Iran’s compliance with its NPT safeguards obligations. We also supported United Nations Security Council targeted sanctions against the DPRK in response to its missile and nuclear tests, and against Iran following its failure to comply with Resolutions 1696, 1737 and 1747 which require the suspension of all Iran’s uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

We participated constructively in the 2007 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 NPT review conference. We continued to coordinate efforts to secure further ratifications for entry into force of the CTBT, including through supporting Mr Downer’s co-chairing of a ministerial-level meeting in New York in September 2006. In the Conference on Disarmament, we helped identify key issues for possible future negotiation of a fissile material cut-off treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Differences in the Conference, however, continued to impede a start to negotiations.

The department monitored developments in the United States—India nuclear cooperation initiative, which the Government has welcomed as a positive step to bring India more fully into the nuclear non-proliferation mainstream. We also participated in international dialogue on sensitive nuclear technology issues and monitored the development of various international proposals to strengthen assurances relating to nuclear fuel supply. Australia shares the non-proliferation goals underpinning a number of such proposals, and has direct interests as a leading uranium supplier that requires its exports to be covered by stringent safeguards. The department addressed these issues in its submission to the Australian government’s Uranium Mining, Processing and Nuclear Energy Review.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

The department achieved increased awareness of and support for the PSI in the Asia-Pacific as a practical means of stopping trafficking in WMD and related delivery systems. We engaged non-PSI countries in the ARF, the PIF and in various seminars. Jointly with the Department of Defence, we developed a PSI exercise training format to improve operational capacity.

The department helped build non-proliferation capacity in the Asia-Pacific and provided assistance on export controls through a range of seminars and workshops, including in cooperation with Japan and the United States. We also supported implementation in the region of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires states to take action to prevent WMD proliferation.

We coordinated Australia’s active role in the four major export control regimes—the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). As Chair of the Australia Group (AG), we helped ensure it remains a key forum for minimising the risk of relevant dual-use materials being diverted to chemical or biological weapons programs. Australia co-hosted a seminar on non-proliferation brokering controls in Seoul in March 2007, which helped catalyse action on brokering in the AG. Outcomes from the 2007 Australia Group Plenary included the strengthening of the Group’s Guidelines to include references to the activities of illegitimate brokers in arms technology and intangible transfers of technology and knowledge that might increase proliferation risks. The Plenary also welcomed Croatia as the forty-first participant. We contributed to the 2007 Assessment Year of the Wassenaar Arrangement by chairing the Task Force on Outreach, which acknowledged Australia’s leading role on outreach as Plenary Chair of the Arrangement in 2006.

In the tenth year of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), together with the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), we promoted the Convention in Australia and overseas. Through seminars for Australian industry and academia, we strengthened understanding of the requirements and prohibitions of the Convention and federal legislation. We shared with Malaysia our experience in facilitating CWC inspections and, with Japan and Indonesia, held a chemicals industry workshop on the critical role of industry in implementing the Convention.

As chair of the Western Group in the sixth Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC), we helped secure measures to promote universalisation of the treaty, enhance its management, and widen its relevance to encompass the emerging threat of bioterrorism.

The department worked with Australian agencies and NGOs to promote international measures to minimise the impact on civilians of conventional weapons (see box below). As President of the Meeting of States Parties to the Mine-Ban Convention, we helped increase support for the Convention among Pacific states by sponsoring a workshop in Vanuatu on issues relating to joining and implementing the Convention. We worked to address concerns posed by cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) forum and the Oslo Process.

Australia’s contribution to negotiations on an Arms Trade Treaty

Australia, along with Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya, and the United Kingdom, co-authored UN General Assembly Resolution 61/86, titled ‘Towards an Arms Trade Treaty’. Passed by an overwhelming majority in December 2006, the Resolution was the first step in negotiating binding international rules for the responsible transfer of all conventional weapons.

The Resolution called for all UN member states to submit views to the UN Secretary-General on the scope, feasibility and parameters of an Arms Trade Treaty. It also called for the UN Secretary-General to convene a group of experts to consider these issues, and to report to the General Assembly in 2008.

Australia will continue to be active in this process. Australia considers that an Arms Trade Treaty should codify existing best practice, such as the Wassenaar Arrangement Guidelines, and include an obligation for states to deny transfers of conventional weapons in circumstances where the goods could breach international or regional embargoes, be used by criminals or terrorists, or be diverted to unauthorised users. An Arms Trade Treaty should also aim to prevent breaches of international humanitarian law, human rights abuse and a destabilising accumulation of arms.

Strategic policy and coordination

The department worked closely with the Department of Defence on a range of strategic policy issues, particularly relating to the Australia–United States alliance, which is crucial to our national security. We contributed to strengthened cooperation with the United States in areas such as capability acquisitions, joint facilities and training, missile defence, and peace operations capacity-building. We helped to finalise a bilateral MOU on Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development of the Joint Strike Fighter. The MOU was adopted at the Australia–United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in Washington in December 2006.

In cooperation with the Department of Defence, we arranged for key foreign governments to be briefed on significant defence policy announcements, including those covering major capability acquisition and planning decisions. We provided regular input to inter-agency consideration of defence export control issues, including advice on the foreign policy dimensions of specific export applications.

Security dialogue and cooperation

The department supported Mr Downer’s participation in the second Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) ministerial meeting with the United States and Japan in Hanoi in November 2006. This followed a TSD senior officials’ meeting in New York in September 2006. Through these meetings, and inter-sessionally, we took forward practical work with our TSD partners on counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, defence, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief issues. We also consulted on issues relating to the DPRK and the Pacific.

We continued to promote Australia’s security interests through a program of bilateral security dialogues with key partners in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. In 2006–07, we held such talks with China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the United Kingdom and Russia. We initiated arrangements for the next round of talks with the United States, among others. These talks help strengthen mutual understanding and build a platform for cooperation on security issues of common concern.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), now in its fourteenth year, remains the region’s primary and most inclusive forum for multilateral security dialogue and cooperation. The department supported Mr Downer’s participation in the ARF ministerial meeting in Kuala Lumpur in July 2006 where ministers agreed to enhance regional cooperation on disaster management, emergency response and aspects of counter-terrorism. Consistent with the Government’s objectives, at ARF officials’ meetings we helped sharpen the focus of ARF work on counter-terrorism, arms control and WMD proliferation. We also ensured the ARF maintained a firm line on the DPRK nuclear issue.

We continued to promote initiatives for the ARF to become more responsive and practically-oriented, including through an active preventive diplomacy role. This will take time to achieve. With the Department of Defence, we supported ARF work on civil–military cooperation, including to deal with non-traditional security threats. To this end, Australia co-chaired an ARF seminar in Hanoi in September 2006 on civil–military cooperation to address pandemics and an ARF workshop in Bangkok in October 2006 on stockpile security of MANPADS and other small arms and light weapons. We and Defence secured strong support for Australia and Indonesia to co-host in 2008 an ARF desktop exercise on civil–military responses to natural disasters.

National security

The department continued to make an important contribution to whole of government approaches to domestic security issues and intelligence policy. We helped shape and implement the national security agenda by supporting portfolio ministers’ participation in meetings of the National Security Committee of Cabinet. We also participated in key strategic policy and security coordination bodies such as the Secretaries Committee on National Security and the National Counter-Terrorism Committee. With a focus on the APEC meeting in Sydney in September 2007, the department participated in national multi-agency counter-terrorism exercises.

We worked closely with Australian intelligence agencies, including in monitoring terrorism and other threats to Australian citizens and interests overseas. We helped develop targeted training courses for departmental staff to increase awareness of the role and work of the Australian intelligence community. We also streamlined the internal handling and accountability mechanisms for highly sensitive material.


The department will look to build on the strong progress made to date with the United States and Japan in advancing practical cooperation under TSD auspices, including in defence areas. We will work to strengthen the security dimension of Australia’s alliance with the United States, and our security relationships with other key partners, particularly in the Asia-Pacific.

While there have been significant recent successes against terrorist groups within the region, there is no room for complacency. In partnership with regional countries, our counter-terrorism efforts must be sustained over the long term. The department will work to strengthen further Australia’s international counter-terrorism engagement.

We will seek to implement agreements from the Sub-Regional Ministerial Conference on Counter-Terrorism, including workshops on countering radicalisation, preventing the illicit movement of small arms and light weapons, ratifying UN counter-terrorism conventions and responding to mass casualty incidents.

We will build on the solid foundations established during the inaugural year of the counter radicalisation program by continuing support for community outreach, interfaith, and public diplomacy activities particularly in Indonesia and the Philippines. We will continue to advance our international chemicals, biological, radiological and nuclear counter-terrorism programs, including by increasing regional capacity to counter biological terrorism. Our MANPADS program will focus on capacity-building in the Asia-Pacific region.

The preparatory process for the 2010 NPT review conference will remain a priority for the department, with another Preparatory Committee Meeting in 2008. Australia will offer to chair the MTCR Plenary in 2008 and continue to work for the strengthening of WMD export controls. We will continue to work towards negotiation of an effective Arms Trade Treaty.

We will continue efforts to encourage a more practically oriented ARF agenda, including through initiatives such as the disaster relief desktop exercise that we will co-host with Indonesia in 2008, as a prelude to the first ARF field exercise.

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