Skip to content
Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally



1.1.10 Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation

Overview

Photo - See caption below for description
Launch of the Report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in Tokyo on 15 December 2009.
L–R: Co-Chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Professor Gareth Evans AO QC; the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd; the then Prime Minister of Japan, Dr Yukio Hatoyama; Co-Chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi

The department advanced the Government’s nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agenda through active engagement in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference held in May 2010, the Conference on Disarmament and the Nuclear Security Summit hosted by US President, Mr Barack Obama, in April. The report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese governments, fed positively into the NPT Review Conference outcomes. We helped keep Australia at the forefront of efforts to control conventional arms, and led Australia’s involvement in major international export control regimes. Australia chaired the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) until November 2009.

We coordinated Australia’s international counter-terrorism engagement, multilaterally and regionally and worked closely with the Indonesian Government in building its counter-terrorism capabilities. We continued to lead Australia’s international strategic engagement, including with the US and other key allies, and played an active role with other members of the national security community in advancing the Government’s comprehensive national security agenda, as outlined in its 2008 National Security Statement.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

Photo - See caption below for description
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, speaking at the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Photo: Trevor Collens

ICNND’s final report, ‘Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policymakers,’ was presented by co-chairs Professor Gareth Evans and Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi to the then Prime Ministers, Mr Rudd and Mr Hatoyama, in Tokyo in December 2009.

This report was the product of detailed discussions in meetings of the 15 commissioners and a range of experts from the Commission’s Advisory Board. These meetings attracted high-level participation from key countries.

The report, synopsis and media kits were produced by the department and distributed by Australian and Japanese embassies around the world. With continuing support from the department, co-chair Evans and other commissioners visited over 30 countries to promote the report ahead of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. The report and associated activity helped build international consensus and momentum on nuclear policy—and the final document of the NPT Review Conference partly reflects the Commission’s recommended outcomes.

The department played an active role in the lead up to and during the May 2010 NPT Review Conference. Another Australia–Japan initiative—a joint package of practical nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures—along with the work of the Vienna Group of Ten (a group of prominent NPT-supporting countries) which Australia chairs, were influential in shaping the comprehensive and forward-looking final document of the conference.

We coordinated the Government’s response to the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties inquiry into nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and to the ICNND report.

We continued to promote, especially within the Asia-Pacific region, universalisation and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). We supported the attendance by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, at the CTBT Article XIV Conference in New York in September 2009 and his meeting in Vienna in February 2010 with Mr Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the CTBT Organization. Both meetings provided opportunities to emphasise Australia’s strong support for international efforts to promote CTBT ratification and implementation.

In 2009, as one of the six presidents of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), we worked hard to break the fifteen-year deadlock blocking negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). We came very close to achieving this, but ultimately failed.

In April 2010, Australia joined some 45 other countries at US President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. The Summit galvanised international efforts to address the threat of nuclear terrorism and endorsed the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world within four years.

As a member of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Australia pressed concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and urged Iran to comply with its international obligations.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

Photo - See caption below for description
Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Ms Kathy Klugman, surveying some of the Australian Government-funded de-mining activities in northern Sri Lanka.

The department led and coordinated the implementation of Australia’s counter-proliferation policy, on both Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and conventional weapons, including our participation in the major international export control regimes. We cooperated closely with other Commonwealth Government agencies on enforcement of UN sanctions measures, and on visa-screening and related processes aimed at preventing the illicit transfer of WMD-sensitive knowledge.

Australia chaired the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) until November 2009. The MTCR seeks to harmonise national export licensing to prevent the proliferation of unmanned systems capable of delivering WMD. As MTCR Chair, we engaged in extensive outreach to encourage adherence by non-members to the MTCR’s export controls.

We chaired two plenary meetings of the Australia Group (AG), which works to prevent the spread of chemical and biological weapons. It does so by harmonising export control lists, and by making it harder for states and non-state actors to exploit differences in national export control systems to obtain dual-use chemicals and biological agents, as well as dual-use chemical and biological equipment, technology and software.

As an active member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), we continued to support and encourage efforts to strengthen controls on the export of sensitive nuclear technology, and to work for the adoption of the IAEA Additional Protocol as a condition of nuclear supply.

By co-hosting a regional Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) workshop jointly with the United States in Sydney in September 2009, we encouraged Asia-Pacific members of the PSI to strengthen their counter-proliferation capabilities.

We worked towards Australia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, signed in December 2008. With other governments, we are supporting Laos in its role as host of the first meeting of States Parties to the Convention in Vientiane in November 2010. We helped keep Australia at the forefront of efforts to promote effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention and worked with AusAID on a new Mine Action Strategy (2010–2014) for the Australian aid program. Under the strategy, released in November 2009, Australia pledged $100 million over the next five years for work towards a world free from landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. In December 2009, we participated in the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World. Australia’s new five-year (2010–2014) $100 million Mine Action Strategy was warmly welcomed by Summit participants.

We continued to coordinate Australia’s whole-of-government effort to counter the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons (SALW), particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. We led Australia’s delegation to the Fourth Biennial Meeting of States on SALW in New York in June 2010. We promoted formal negotiations on a UN Arms Trade Treaty and these began in New York in July 2010.

Counter-terrorism

The department played a central role in responding to the 17 July 2009 Jakarta hotel bombings, where three Australians were among seven killed. Directly after the attack, Mr Smith led a team—including Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, Mr Bill Paterson, and the National Security Adviser, Mr Duncan Lewis—to provide political and further technical support to Indonesia.

We continued to broaden our support for Indonesia’s counter-terrorism capacities, by expanding a major prison reform project, funded by DFAT and AusAID, to improve the handling and security of prisoners convicted of terrorist offences. DFAT also funded initiatives designed to build local communities’ resilience to violent extremism, including training, curriculum development and language projects in major Indonesian institutions. We worked through the UN, APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Pacific Islands Forum to enhance regional capacity-building activities. These included workshops on detecting and deterring cash couriers and bulk cash smugglers. We also initiated a series of workshops designed to strengthen capacities to prevent terrorists gaining access to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.

We contributed to the Counter-Terrorism White Paper Securing Australia—Protecting our Community launched in February 2010. The White Paper announced an enhanced role for the Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, including recommending international counter-terrorism policy priorities to the National Security Committee of Cabinet.

We worked with other donors to develop the concept of a South Asia law enforcement training centre. The exploratory stages of this initiative have been funded by the European Union. Australia played an important role in shaping partners’ approaches given our own experience with the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC), which is recognised as having made a major contribution to international counter-terrorism efforts. As a parallel measure, the department sponsored regional workshops run by the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) for South Asian law enforcement officers and prosecutors held in Dhaka in November 2009 and in Colombo in June 2010.

In October 2009, we expanded our network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to include the United Arab Emirates, taking the total to 15. These MOUs provide a formal mechanism to enhance our policy and operational cooperation on counter-terrorism with those countries.

The department worked with the United Nations and the G8 Counter-Terrorism Action Group to strengthen multilateral counter-terrorism structures. We contributed to the review of the UN’s listings of terrorist groups and individuals subject to sanctions or asset freezing.

The department initiated a series of workshops and two exercises for government officials from a number of South-East Asian countries. These training activities were aimed at reducing the risk of terrorists acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials and contributed to the work plan of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

National security and strategic policy

The department sustained its active engagement as a key agency within the national security community in advancing and implementing policies set out in the 2008 National Security Statement.

We supported Mr Smith’s membership of two Cabinet Committees dealing with national security and border protection, and participated in other high-level strategic policy and coordination bodies, notably the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security and the Strategic Policy Coordination Group. We contributed to strengthening the Government’s new framework for the expanded national security community. This included taking part in the National Intelligence Coordination Committee, and the Homeland and Border Security Policy Coordination Group.

In July 2009, we supported Mr Smith’s participation in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF). We coordinated Australia’s strong multi-agency representation at the second ARF meeting on maritime security in March 2010. In the same month, for the first time, we and Border Protection Command attended the Governing Council meeting of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in Singapore as an external participant.

The department strengthened Australia’s Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) with Japan and the United States, including through Mr Smith’s participation in the fifth TSD Ministerial Meeting held in New York in September 2009. TSD continued to provide a valuable mechanism for dialogue on matters of mutual strategic interest. Working closely with AusAID and the Department of Defence, we took the lead, in May 2010, in the conduct, under TSD auspices, of a successful desktop exercise on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

We cooperated with other Australian Government agencies on a variety of national security and strategic policy issues. These agencies included the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Defence, the Attorney-General’s Department, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Border Protection Command, the Office of Transport Security (Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government), as well as the Australian intelligence community. The issues we worked on included strengthening the US alliance, deepening Australia’s cooperation with regional partners, cyber policy, training outreach, and maritime and aviation security. We also played a significant role in establishing a new National Security College at the Australian National University, which Mr Rudd opened in May 2010.

We continued to promote Australia’s interests through productive bilateral strategic dialogues with Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, France, Russia, Vietnam and Thailand. These dialogues improved mutual understanding of respective strategic perspectives, concerns and interests.

The department made a strong contribution to inter-agency work on important government initiatives to improve Australia’s contribution to international stabilisation and reconstruction activities, as well as to humanitarian and disaster relief operations. We supported the establishment by AusAID of the Australian Civilian Corps. We were closely engaged with the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence on its activities, such as providing staff and assisting with its international conferences and other outreach.

Outlook

The department will work to advance the outcomes of the NPT Review Conference, promote further ratifications of the CTBT and the full establishment of its verification system, and continue to press for the immediate commencement of FMCT negotiations. We will continue cooperating closely with the IAEA and others to strengthen the nuclear safeguards regime and to address compliance concerns. We will contribute to Australia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and to its effective implementation, and coordinate the development of a robust whole-of-government approach to Arms Trade Treaty negotiations. We will participate in Australia’s hosting of the first Regional Operational Experts Group (ROEG) meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and PSI Exercise Pacific Protector ’10, in Cairns in September 2010.

The department will work to implement initiatives announced in the Counter-Terrorism White Paper. Our efforts will be focused primarily in South-East Asia but we will also seek to strengthen our engagement with South Asia, the Middle East and East Africa, as appropriate. We will continue to build on Australia’s strong alliance with the United States and our security partnerships with other Asia-Pacific countries, notably Japan, Indonesia and the Republic of Korea. We will also work to advance Australian engagement with other key countries, notably China and India, on strategic and security issues.

Next page: 1.1.11 Services to other agencies in Australia and overseas
Previous page: 1.1.9 International organisations, legal and environment

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade