Annual Report 2007-2008

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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 :: Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament :: Counter-proliferation and export controls :: Strategic policy and coordination :: Security dialogue and cooperation :: National security :: Outlook


The department continued to lead coordination of the Government’s international counter-terrorism efforts, with a strong focus on South-East Asia and the Pacific. The department was active in multilateral and regional forums in promoting international commitment to combating terrorism and coordinating capacity building assistance. We deepened counter-terrorism linkages with neighbours and expanded our range of counter-terrorism dialogue partners.

The department increased its focus on non-proliferation and disarmament, stepping up efforts to prevent the proliferation of both weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and conventional weapons and to strengthen international export control regimes. In May 2008, we led Australia’s multi-agency delegation to the diplomatic conference in Dublin that reached agreement on the text of a treaty to ban cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.

Under the auspices of the ministerial-level Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD), we continued to advance practical trilateral cooperation between Australia, Japan and the United States in a range of areas, with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief a high priority.


The department continued to coordinate the Government’s international counter-terrorism activities. Some 20 Australian agencies were involved in policy dialogue, operational collaboration and capacity building with regional and other partners. Areas of cooperation included law enforcement, diplomacy, legal assistance, maritime and border security, radioactive source security, anti-terrorist financing, intelligence and countering extremism.

We made strong progress in strengthening our key counter-terrorism partnerships through dialogue and practical cooperation. Mr Smith and his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Hassan Wirajuda, agreed in February 2008 to extend for a further three years the Memorandum of Understanding on Combating International Terrorism with Indonesia. In May 2008, the department led inaugural high-level counter-terrorism consultations with Indonesia and a second round of consultations with the Philippines. The consultations reviewed capacity building and operational collaboration, and agreed broad priorities and directions for future cooperation. The department continues to provide support to the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) which plays an important role in fostering cooperation among South-East Asian agencies involved in counter-terrorism. In June 2008, we extended for a further six months the secondment of an Australian official to assist the Cambodian Government strengthen its counter-terrorism capabilities.

We led bilateral counter-terrorism talks with India in August 2007. At the Australia–India Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue in June 2008, Mr Smith and his counterpart, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, emphasised the importance of sustained counter-terrorism activity and noted the need for practical cooperation in areas such as intelligence, law enforcement, border security, terrorist financing and money laundering. Our dialogue partners on counter-terrorism were expanded to include Russia, with a first round of bilateral talks held in June 2008.

The department was active in a range of multilateral and regional forums in promoting international commitment to combating terrorism and coordinating capacity building assistance. Our engagement with United Nations counter-terrorism bodies was aimed at ensuring that UN mechanisms were appropriately configured and equipped to assist member states in their implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. At meetings of the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group in member capitals, Australian officials achieved recognition of a stronger role for the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate in enhancing international cooperation, including donor coordination. At the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) held in May 2008, we secured strong backing for an Australian-sponsored statement on control of precursors of illicit drugs and for an Australia–Indonesia workshop on terrorist use of the internet.

We continued to pursue measures to address the threat of terrorists acquiring and using Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) materials. Australia and the United States co-sponsored a workshop in Sydney in December 2007, on Molybdenum-99 Production Using Low Enriched Uranium, attended by 14 countries. Australia underscored its strong support for the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism at the fourth plenary meeting of the Initiative in Spain in June 2008. Over the course of the year Australia contributed to implementing the Initiative through outreach activity and involvement in the development of an exercise program, model guidelines on nuclear detection architecture, and an information portal for Initiative partners. The department assisted regional countries in countering the threat of bioterrorism, including through provision of technical training on biosecurity and biosafety for regional experts. At a meeting of the G8 Global Partnership Working Group in Tokyo in March 2008, we raised awareness of the CBRN terrorist threat in South-East Asia.

The department contributed to whole-of-government efforts to implement Australia’s international counter-terrorism obligations through support for listings of terrorist organisations in relation to which Criminal Code offences are to apply (see output 1.1.9 on page 121 for work undertaken to strengthen Australia’s terrorist asset freezing regime).

Trilateral cooperation with Japan and the United States continued to make a practical contribution to addressing terrorist threats in South-East Asia. Collaboration on port security in the Philippines was a high priority. With Japanese and US counterparts, we reviewed cooperation on border, transport and maritime security, and countering extremism. In April and May 2008, we conducted trilateral regional workshops on responding to terrorist cash couriers and bioterrorism.

The department deepened its outreach work with regional governments and civil society organisations. We supported a range of activities promoting tolerance and mutual understanding among communities in our region, and countering extremist ideology and propaganda. In this context, the department began to engage with the Indonesian corrections sector, including hosting a successful visit to Australia in August 2007 by a high-level delegation of Indonesian police, prison officers and counter-terrorism officials. In partnership with the NSW Department of Corrective Services, in June 2008 the department provided targeted training in Australia for a range of senior Indonesian corrections officials. We conducted research on attitudes to issues such as democracy, politically motivated violence, extremist ideology and the acceptance of pluralism. We also facilitated visits by academics, journalists and community leaders to and from Australia into the region.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

The department worked to implement the Government’s commitment to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and reinvigorate global efforts to achieve disarmament.

We took forward work to establish an International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, as announced by the Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, on 9 June 2008 (see box below).

International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

In an address at Kyoto University, Japan, on 9 June 2008, the Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, announced the establishment of an International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

The objective of the Commission is to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reinvigorate the global effort against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reaffirm the commitment to the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapons-free world. The Commission aims to help shape a global consensus in the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The Commission will be co-chaired by former Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon. Gareth Evans AO QC, and the former Japanese Minister for the Environment and for Foreign Affairs, Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi.

We engaged constructively in the 2008 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) second Preparatory Committee meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. We advocated additional measures to strengthen the NPT and further disarmament by nuclear weapon states. For the first time, the Australian delegation included non-government organisation (NGO) representatives. The Review Conference will need to ensure the Treaty continues to provide a robust framework for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, in order to meet current and future proliferation challenges.

In managing Australia’s representation on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, the department actively supported the IAEA’s role in enhancing the nuclear non-proliferation safeguards regime and nuclear safety standards, and providing assistance for the use of nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes. As a major global uranium producer, Australia encouraged the development of proposals offering nuclear fuel supply assurance and restricting the proliferation of sensitive nuclear technology. We continued to urge all countries to make the IAEA Additional Protocol a condition of nuclear supply for non-nuclear weapon states. We made clear the Government’s policy to supply uranium only to countries that are party to the NPT and with which we have a bilateral safeguards agreement.

Photo - See caption below for description
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Stephen Smith, with the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Mr Sergio Duarte, at the United Nations Secretariat Building, in New York, on 25 January 2008.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department continued to promote the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and the completion of its verification system. We supported the visit to Australia in May 2008 of Ambassador Tibor Toth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organization. We also advocated strongly the commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. The department supported efforts to raise awareness among Pacific states of the Biological Weapons Convention. Effective implementation and verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) was promoted by the department at the second CWC Review Conference in April 2008.

We worked closely with members of the Six-Party Talks (6PT) concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK’s) nuclear program and within the IAEA framework on ways in which Australia could support the 6PT process and encourage the DPRK to denuclearise. The department made representations to the DPRK Government urging it to fulfil its commitments.

We implemented fully United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1803, which imposed new sanctions on Iran for its failure to comply with three prior UNSC resolutions and to suspend uranium enrichment activities, and supported international efforts to engage with Iran on a comprehensive long-term solution to the impasse. We joined others in calling on Syria to cooperate fully with the IAEA following information pointing to its engagement in clandestine nuclear activities.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

The department continued to lead and coordinate national counter-proliferation efforts against Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and conventional weapons. Australia’s achievements in these areas are built on close cooperation between agencies, particularly with the Department of Defence, Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Customs Service and Australian Crime Commission.

The department led Australia’s multi-agency delegations in the ‘Oslo Process’ negotiations aimed at banning those cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians. We engaged with all stakeholders, particularly civil society, and NGO representatives were included in Australia’s delegations to the negotiations.

The Oslo Process achieved a breakthrough at the diplomatic conference in Dublin in May 2008, where a treaty text was agreed by all 111 participating states. The text enhances protection of civilians in conflict zones and provides for victim assistance and clearance of affected areas, while also ensuring that cooperation between nations through peacekeeping and other joint operations with states not party to the treaty can continue. In recognition of our active role and status in these international negotiations, Australia was appointed as one of the ‘Friends of the Chair’ at the Dublin Conference and led development of the treaty preambular text.

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Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Stephen Smith, greeting Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Mr Tibor Toth, in Canberra on 10 May, 2008. Photo: Auspic
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department continued to lead Australia’s negotiating team in negotiations on cluster munitions under the UN-based Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which engages the major producers and users of cluster munitions.

The department continued to promote Asia-Pacific participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), the objective of which is to strengthen practical cooperation to prevent illicit trafficking in WMD-related items. International participation in the PSI rose to 91 states during the year. A senior departmental official represented Australia at the fifth anniversary PSI conference in Washington in May 2008. Australia’s proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organization to negotiate the inclusion of a WMD-related aviation transport offence in the Montreal Convention was welcomed and endorsed by PSI participants.

We coordinated Australia’s active contribution to major export control regimes. As permanent Chair of the Australia Group, we sought to ensure that the Group biological and chemical control lists kept pace with technological and industry developments. The department continued to advocate the importance of capturing intangible transfers of technology, monitoring developments in synthetic biology and conducting informative and cooperative outreach to domestic industry and academic sectors.

Australia was unanimously endorsed as the 2008–09 Chair of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which coordinates national export licensing to prevent the proliferation of unmanned systems capable of delivering WMD. We actively engaged other MTCR partners in the lead-up to the MTCR plenary meeting that we will host in November 2008 in Canberra. As the incoming Chair, we participated in the MTCR leadership troika in outreach to non-members.

The department continued to promote the strengthening of measures to prevent the spread of WMD-related items and technologies, and their delivery systems, including through workshops and other practical assistance. We supported full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. We worked with other Commonwealth agencies on visa-screening and related processes with a view to preventing the illicit transfer of WMD-sensitive knowledge and to enforce UN sanctions measures.

The department continued to play the lead role in Australia’s initiative to encourage strengthened international controls over the manufacture, storage and transfer of Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS). We continued to work closely with like-minded partner countries on future strategies and cooperation. We advocated strengthened international export controls and improved stockpile management through bilateral outreach activities and active engagement in relevant multilateral forums. In December 2007, the 62nd UN General Assembly adopted its third Australian-sponsored consensus resolution on strengthening measures to ban the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors. We were instrumental in persuading members of the Wassenaar Arrangement to agree to strengthen further the Arrangement’s guidelines on MANPADS.

We continued to be active in work on an Arms Trade Treaty. Australia is a member of the Group of Government Experts appointed by the UN Secretary-General to examine the scope and feasibility of such a Treaty. Australia takes the view that the Treaty should uphold international humanitarian law, prevent human rights abuse and destabilising accumulation of arms, and codify best practice.

We maintained Australia’s position at the forefront of efforts to promote the effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.

Strategic policy and coordination

The department worked closely with the Department of Defence on a range of strategic policy issues of shared portfolio interest, particularly relating to the Australia–US alliance. We helped negotiate the text of the Treaty with the United States on Defense Trade Cooperation and also the text of Implementing Arrangement to the Treaty.

We played a prominent part in fostering trilateral security and defence cooperation with the United States and Japan, in particular on delivery of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We contributed to strengthened bilateral security relations with Japan.

Security dialogue and cooperation

Photo - See caption below for description
United States Secretary of State, Dr Condoleezza Rice, Japan’s Foreign Minister, Mr Masahiko Koumura, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Stephen Smith, after the ministerial-level Trilateral Strategic Dialogue meeting in Kyoto on 27 June 2008.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department supported Mr Smith’s participation, with his US and Japanese counterparts, in the third Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) ministerial meeting in Kyoto in June 2008. Ministers issued a joint statement reaffirming the three countries’ commitment to work together as close strategic partners to promote stability and security globally, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. In an annex to the statement, ministers emphasised the importance of trilateral cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (see box below).

The ministerial meeting followed TSD Senior Officials’ Meetings in Washington in July 2007, in Canberra in December 2007, and in Tokyo in June 2008. We took forward practical work with our TSD partners in a range of areas including counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, maritime security, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We also consulted trilaterally on security issues relating to the Pacific.



Trilateral cooperation: humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

As an outcome of the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) ministerial meeting in Kyoto on 27 June 2008, Mr Smith, Japanese Foreign Minister, Masahiko Koumura and United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, agreed that the three countries would work together to enhance further their preparation for and response to natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies in the region.

Australia, Japan and the United States have a strong record in offering assistance following the 2008 Chinese earthquake, the 2008 Burmese cyclone and the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. While recognising that national governments have primary responsibility for such responses, trilateral efforts would support and be at the request of governments and countries affected.

Following an announcement made by the Prime Minister during his visit to Japan (9–12 June), Mr Smith indicated at the Kyoto TSD that Australia would host a meeting in Canberra of trilateral disaster relief experts in the second half of 2008. Officials will share lessons learned, conduct exercises to build understanding and capabilities, and develop guidelines to facilitate better coordination.

Trilateral cooperation on disaster management and emergency response will complement and reinforce the work of relevant regional and international organisations.

We continued to promote Australia’s security interests through a program of bilateral security dialogues. In 2007–08, we held such talks with Malaysia, Japan, India, France, the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom.

In the lead-up to Mr Smith’s participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) ministerial meeting in Singapore in July 2008, the department worked with Singapore (the ARF Chair) and others, to encourage institutional reform of the ARF and improved secretariat functions. We also advocated a stronger focus by the ARF on a core work program of practical activities, including capacity building and exercises. This will take time to achieve. We supported a Defence-led ARF desktop exercise co-hosted with Indonesia, on civil-military responses to natural disasters.

National security

The department helped shape and implement the Government’s national security agenda by supporting Mr Smith’s participation in the National Security Committee of Cabinet. We also participated in key strategic policy and security coordination bodies, including the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security.

We contributed to a range of policy reviews, including through our submission to the Homeland and Border Security Review led by Mr Ric Smith AO. We worked in close cooperation with key federal agencies and state and territory jurisdictions through the National Counter-Terrorism Committee, in addition to providing foreign policy advice to national security consultative and coordination bodies. We participated in a range of whole-of-government counter-terrorism exercises and contributed to preparations for the Mercury 2008 multi-jurisdictional counter-terrorism exercise, particularly the arrangements for an international observer program.

We helped shape the Government’s intelligence agenda by contributing to Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) governance processes, including through the Foreign Intelligence Coordination Committee. We kept AIC agencies informed of Australia’s foreign and trade policy priorities in order to promote an effective whole-of-government approach to intelligence collection and analysis. We gave high priority to supporting efforts to improve the safety of Australians overseas. We took forward proposals to ensure the secure handling of Australian information by overseas partners.


The department will draw on the lessons learned from our engagement on counter-terrorism with South-East Asian partners in the development of programs for the wider region. We will strengthen our cooperation with United Nations counter-terrorism bodies in order to implement the UN’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. We will give priority to raising awareness of CBRN terrorist risks and enhancing regional capacity in this regard. We will deepen our partnerships with regional governments and civil society to build social cohesion and resilience against extremist messages.

The department will continue to lead and coordinate Australia’s non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, with the work of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament being a high priority. We will work towards the third Biennial Meeting of States Parties to the UN Program of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons (BMS 3) in July 2008 setting a positive and achievable agenda. The department will coordinate Australia’s scrutiny of the Oslo Process cluster munitions treaty text prior to its opening for signature in December 2008. Through our chairing in 2008–09 of two of the four major international export control regimes—the Australia Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime—we will seek expanded membership and the broadest implementation of their controls.

The department will build on the strong progress made to date in advancing practical cooperation under TSD auspices and through trilateral engagement more generally, including in defence. We will work to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the United States and security relationships with key partners in the Asia-Pacific and other regions. We will continue efforts to encourage a more practically oriented ARF agenda.

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