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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade - Annual Report 2000-2001
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Protection and advancement of Australia’s international interests through the diplomatic network and Canberra-based activity

Provision of policy advice and analysis to Portfolio Ministers

1.1.8 and 1.2.8 : Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation

Effectiveness indicators


Despite an international environment not conducive to progress on key Australian policy objectives in the area of arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, the department nonetheless achieved some significant progress in advancing Australia’s security interests Click to view related information - opens in new window in international forums, by our contribution to the formulation of Australian security policy and through expanding our strategic dialogue with regional and global partners.

Our efforts to ensure the 2000 United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed two important nuclear disarmament resolutions were successful. We were able to extend Australia’s influence in two key international arms control efforts:

The department coordinated the development of Australian policies toward missile defence. In response to proposals by the new US Administration, we encouraged the United States to consult closely with allies and other key countries. We arranged for the visit to Australia in May by Mr James Kelly, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific, to undertake consultations on missile defence.

The department’s coordination of the Australia Group continues to generate international respect and enhances our standing on broader global security issues. This year we increased the effectiveness of the group, improving information-sharing about the trade in dual-use chemical and biological products and introducing new transparency measures.

Underscoring the difficult international environment for arms control, we made limited progress in securing new accessions to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). A deadlock in the Conference on Disarmament prevented negotiations starting on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, a key Australian nuclear non-proliferation objective. Despite extensive efforts by Australia in negotiations to conclude a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), agreement is unlikely in time for the Fifth Review Conference of the BWC in November 2001.

The department continued to promote Australia’s international security objectives through bilateral security dialogues and regional initiatives. Our bilateral security dialogue program was strengthened by the agreement to begin regular strategic discussions with India. Regional security cooperation within the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) framework progressed slowly, but Australia remained active in encouraging participants to move beyond confidence-building toward preventive diplomacy measures.

We were also active in seeking regional support for international security regimes through:

At a UN disarmament conference in New Zealand we supported the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to encourage Pacific island countries to adopt strengthened nuclear safeguards and to implement the CTBT.

The department concluded a bilateral nuclear cooperation and safeguards agreement with Argentina and completed negotiations for bilateral safeguards agreements with the Czech Republic and Hungary, which will facilitate the export of Australian uranium to these countries.

The department worked closely with other agencies to ensure the security of major international events in Australia, including the Sydney Olympics and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane in October 2001.

See description below - click image for a larger version

John Sullivan, Assistant Secretary, Nuclear Policy Branch and Jose Santos Bento, Head of the Safeguards Office of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), at the Australia–Euratom nuclear policy consultations held in Canberra in June 2001.

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Global strategies

Nuclear issues Click to view related information - opens in new window

The department worked intensively in the lead-up to the 2000 UN General Assembly session to secure overwhelming support for two nuclear disarmament resolutions, consolidating the 2000 NPT Review Conference outcomes. The Australian-led Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) resolution was also adopted with near-consensus support and a larger majority than in 1999. Through Australian diplomatic missions abroad, the department made representations urging CTBT signature and/or ratification to over 30 countries, including regional countries and those whose ratification is required for entry into force. Two countries subsequently signed the treaty and five ratified.

In the CTBT Preparatory Commission, Australia was at the forefront of ensuring that the treaty’s verification system would be ready at entry into force. Through ASNO, the department was closely involved in the certification of three Australian nuclear test monitoring stations by the Provisional Technical Secretariat as ready to carry out their tasks under the CTBT’s International Monitoring System. With three stations on line, Australia has at present the greatest number of IMS stations operational worldwide.

The department’s efforts in support of a start to Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) negotiations were unsuccessful, due to the continuing inability of the UN to agree on a work program. Nonetheless, substantial preliminary discussion on the critical issues involved in a treaty was achieved by Australia co-sponsoring, with Japan, an international workshop on cut-off issues in Geneva on 14 and 15 May 2001. ASNO provided an expert on verification methodologies at this workshop.

Biological and chemical weapons Click to view related information - opens in new window

Australia, through the efforts of the department, again played a lead role in negotiations for a protocol to strengthen the BWC. As Vice Chair of the Ad Hoc Group, Friend of the Chair for Legal Issues and Western Group Coordinator, we worked intensively to help bridge remaining differences. We continued to advocate the security benefits that an effective protocol would offer the Asia-Pacific region. Building on the commitment of a wide range of countries to concluding the protocol, the Chair of the negotiations released a compromise text on 30 March 2001. Reflecting nearly a decade of work, this text incorporated some but not all of Australia’s suggestions. Unfortunately, it is almost certain that the negotiations will not be completed by the deadline of the Fifth Review Conference in November 2001. We anticipate that several key states will be unable to agree to the compromise text by that time. The department informed industry representatives of progress in the negotiations through the National Consultative Group on biological weapons, which in turn provided expert advice and maintained its support for the Government’s robust negotiating position.

The department contributed to international efforts to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) as effectively as possible. We played an important role in pressing the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to address serious financial and administrative problems. At the Sixth Conference of the States Parties in May 2001, our delegation helped to shepherd through financial measures that should help the OPCW maintain its core non-proliferation functions. We continue to encourage the OPCW to adopt sound long-term structural arrangements and managerial practices.

The department and ASNO organised a CWC Regional Workshop in Melbourne in May 2001 in conjunction with the OPCW, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the Plastics and Chemicals Association. Delegates from 14 Asian and Pacific island countries discussed implementation issues and regional cooperation. Australia provided practical advice and highlighted for the OPCW the unique difficulties in promoting adherence to the CWC in the South Pacific. ASNO also held a seminar in Vietnam in January to help Vietnamese industry implement the CWC. The OPCW did not conduct any inspections in Australia during the year. ASNO, as the national authority, ensured that all of our CWC obligations were satisfied.

Export controls

The department again coordinated and chaired the annual meeting of the Australia Group (AG) Click to view related information - opens in new window in October 2000. An informal consultative body of 32 countries and the European Commission, the AG harmonises national export controls for dual-use products that could be diverted into biological and chemical weapons programs. We revamped the procedures for the annual meeting and have increased intersessional activity to enhance its effectiveness. Participants welcomed the changes, confirming that our efficient coordination of the group earns Australia considerable international respect and credibility on security issues. We maintained an outreach program to share information about the group with non-participating countries and presented an AG paper at the Eighth Asian Export Controls Seminar in Tokyo. Australia’s outreach efforts have helped to counter misconceptions in some quarters that the group is discriminatory. The department produced and distributed an AG information brochure and established an AG website to promote better understanding of the activities of the group and to underline its commitment to transparency.

The department furthered the Government’s commitment to greater responsibility and transparency in the international conventional arms trade. We helped develop a paper reviewing regional trends in arms acquisitions for the Wassenaar Arrangement, the principal international regime relating to transfers of conventional weapons and dual-use goods.

The department made a strong contribution to international efforts to combat the proliferation of missiles and missile technology. Through a series of bilateral representations in the Asia-Pacific region, we helped build support for an International Code of Conduct against ballistic missile proliferation developed by the MTCR Click to view related information - opens in new window. We also worked to build support for the MTCR through our participation in outreach workshops targeting MTCR non-members. Through our participation in a newly established United Nations Missile Experts Panel, we will be able to promote Australia’s policies on missile proliferation.

The department’s efforts to ensure compliance with our MTCR obligations were reflected in the successful negotiation of an inter-governmental agreement with Russia on space cooperation as part of the Government’s efforts to promote a commercial space launch industry. The department continues to be closely involved in negotiations for a bilateral Technical Safeguards Agreement with Russia to cover cooperation on space launches from a proposed Christmas Island launch facility.

During the year, multilateral export controls on nuclear materials were challenged by the supply of nuclear fuel by Russia, a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to India, which is not a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Click to view related information - opens in new window. Subsequently, the department was active in achieving a reaffirmation at the May 2001 Aspen Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary meeting that nuclear materials should not be supplied to countries unless fullscope nuclear safeguards are in place in the recipient country.

In collaboration with other agencies, the department improved Australia’s domestic export controls for nuclear-related technology. We also developed specific measures to enhance Australia’s controls on intangible technology transfers relevant to weapons of mass destruction.

Department officials visited a number of Australian companies to explain their obligations under export control regimes and to brief them on the requirements of relevant Australian legislation, including the Weapons of Mass Destruction Act 1995. The department, with other agencies, also ensured that all Australian exports with potential military applications were consistent with Australian policy interests and international obligations.

Conventional weapons Click to view related information - opens in new window

Australia’s Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva was unanimously endorsed in April 2000 as President-designate of the Second Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) to be held in December 2001. The CCW seeks to control inhumane weapons such as landmines, booby-traps, blinding laser weapons and incendiary devices. Australia is now well placed to influence CCW States Parties on proposals designed to strengthen the convention’s provisions. These include new protocols to deal with the explosive remnants of war, such as cluster bombs and anti-vehicle mines.

In preparation for a major UN Conference on Small Arms, the department stepped up our contribution to regional and international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms. We organised a small arms workshop for Pacific island countries in Brisbane in May 2001, which advanced the development of a common regional approach to weapon control. We strongly supported the negotiation of an international program of action designed to curb the illicit small arms trade, to be considered at the UN conference in July 2001.

The Government continued to promote greater international adherence to the Ottawa Convention against anti-personnel landmines. Our work with Pacific Island countries helped achieve two more accessions during the year. The department also established an AusAID-funded collaborative program with the Australian Network of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, a coalition of non-government organisations, to build support for the Ottawa Convention among South East Asian countries that have not yet acceded.

Nuclear safeguards

The department continued Australia’s strong support for the IAEA in its leading role in nuclear non-proliferation, the implementation of safeguards and nuclear safety. Through its position on the Board of Governors of the IAEA, Australia contributed to improved management of the agency, ensuring more effective use of funds through rigorous setting of priorities for programs and projects.

The ASNO Director-General remains a member of the IAEA Director General’s Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation, and has been influential in the IAEA’s implementation of strengthened safeguards. Australia pioneered new arrangements to strengthen nuclear safeguards, becoming the first country to implement IAEA integrated safeguards—that is, the optimum combination of classical (original) and strengthened safeguards measures that broaden the IAEA’s inspection powers.

As the national regulator, ASNO Click to view external web site - opens in new window ensured that Australia’s obligations under the NPT (IAEA Safeguards) were met and confirmed that all Australian Obligated Nuclear Material in the nuclear fuel cycle worldwide had remained in peaceful use. Through inspections and audits, it determined that nuclear material and items in Australia had been accounted for satisfactorily.

The department negotiated a bilateral nuclear cooperation and safeguards agreement with Argentina. The agreement will underpin the increased level of technical exchange between Australia and Argentina that will flow from the supply of a replacement nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights from Argentina. The agreement will also ensure that spent fuel from the reactor may be reprocessed or conditioned in Argentina, if necessary, as well as enabling the possible export of uranium to Argentina in the future.

The department consulted Pacific island countries on their concerns about shipments of nuclear materials through the region. Through liaising with the shipping states and monitoring the shipments, we were assured that international norms for the safe transport of nuclear materials were followed.

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Regional and bilateral security dialogues

Through bilateral security dialogues with key global and regional partners, the department built support for Australian positions on a range of important issues including: supporting the importance of US engagement in the Asia-Pacific; ensuring continued international support for East Timor; enhancing the stability of the Korean Peninsula; and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The dialogues help strengthen our strategic relationships with allies and with global and regional partners, in turn helping to underpin regional security. We secured agreement to begin a strategic dialogue with India, ensuring that we now have formal security dialogues with all the major global and regional powers.

Complementing the central role of bilateral security links in maintaining regional security and stability, the ARF Click to view related information - opens in new window allowed the department to foster shared perceptions among regional powers on security issues of importance to Australia. In particular, the department successfully supported efforts by Mr Downer to bring the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) into the ARF in July 2000. This has allowed regional countries collectively to convey to the DPRK their concerns about its development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The department promoted initiatives to enhance the role of the ARF Chair, as part of our efforts to encourage the forum to develop preventive diplomacy mechanisms, and to combat the threat posed to the Asia-Pacific region by illicit trafficking in small arms. The ARF has, however, made little progress in these and other areas. We were unable to reach consensus on an Australian proposal for an ARF declaration on small arms and light weapons. A leading challenge for the ARF remains devising preventive diplomacy mechanisms that put timely action ahead of the strong preference some members have for consensus and extensive consultation.

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Olympic security

The department contributed to the security of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games by coordinating risk assessments used for the South Pacific Torch Relay and by providing staff for the whole-of-government Federal Olympics Security Intelligence Centre. Guided by that experience, the department provided advice on international issues that might lead to threats against visitors to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Brisbane later in 2001. By leading an inter-departmental exercise, we also worked to ensure that Australia has effective mechanisms for a speedy and safe resolution of an overseas terrorist incident.

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Defence policy

The department worked closely with the Department of Defence in preparing the Defence 2000 White Paper Click to view external web site - opens in new window to produce an accurate reflection of Australia’s strategic setting and to ensure the paper supported broader foreign and national security policy objectives. Through regional briefings undertaken with Defence, we helped shape the positive reaction the White Paper attracted outside Australia.

The financial and staffing resources summary for outcome 1 is at Appendix 2.

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