Annual Report 2008-2009

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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 :: Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament :: Counter-proliferation and export controls :: Counter-terrorism :: National security and strategic policy :: Outlook


The department intensified its efforts to prevent the proliferation of both weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and certain categories of conventional weapons. A major focus was the establishment and operation of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese Governments. The Minister for Foreign Affairs signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. We initiated action to enable ratification by Australia of this significant humanitarian and arms control treaty.

We led Australia’s international engagement aimed at securing commitment and building capacity to counter terrorism in our region and at a global level. The department deepened practical counter-terrorism cooperation with South-East Asia and extended Australia’s efforts in South Asia. We implemented programs aimed at lessening the appeal of ideologies linked to violent extremism. We strengthened Australia’s contribution to regional and international efforts to prevent terrorists acquiring chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials.

The department was strongly engaged in implementing the Government’s comprehensive national security agenda, as outlined in the Prime Minister’s National Security Statement of 4 December 2008. We also worked closely with the Department of Defence in the development of the 2009 Defence White Paper.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

Photo - See caption below for description
Co-Chairs, Mr Gareth Evans AO QC and Ms Yuriko Kawaguchi, with Commissioners, Advisory Board Members and Secretariat staff at the third meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament held in Moscow on 20–21 June 2009.
Photo: Anatoly Kozharin
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department provided substantial administrative and policy support to the establishment and operation of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), co-chaired by former Australian Foreign Minister, the Hon Gareth Evans AO QC, and former Japanese Foreign Minister, Ms Yoriko Kawaguchi. In addition to the co-chairs, the Commission comprises 13 commissioners and a 27-member advisory board from across the globe.

The aims of the Commission are to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), reinvigorate the global effort against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and make practical recommendations aimed at achieving the ultimate goal of a nuclear weapons free world. Although supported by the Australian and Japanese Governments, the Commission itself is independent. Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 9 July 2008 that Japan would co-chair the Commission, the department established a secretariat to support the Commission. In collaboration with its Japanese counterparts, the ICNND secretariat organised and serviced three plenary meetings of the Commission: in Sydney in October 2008; in Washington in February 2009; and in Moscow in June 2009. The secretariat organised two regional outreach meetings, for Latin America in Santiago de Chile in May 2009 and for North East Asia in Beijing in May 2009.

The secretariat supported high-level advocacy by the co-chairs and commissioners in a wide range of bilateral and multilateral meetings. The secretariat commissioned an extensive research program to inform the Commission’s deliberations and enhance public understanding of the issues relevant to the Commission’s work. It contributed to the significant progress made in drafting the Commission’s major report, scheduled to be published in early 2010 in the lead-up to the NPT Review Conference in May 2010.

The third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference was held in April 2009. Our advocacy of Australia’s non-proliferation and disarmament objectives before and during the meeting, and constructive engagement with other delegations, contributed to the PrepCom’s positive atmosphere and substantial debate. The PrepCom produced an agreed agenda for the 2010 Review Conference.

Australia is one of the six presidents of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in 2009. We helped achieve the adoption by the CD on 29 May 2009 of a work program that includes agreement to commence negotiations on a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). The negotiation of an FMCT has long been an Australian foreign policy objective. The CD’s adoption of the work program, after a hiatus of over a decade, was a significant step forward for global disarmament efforts.

The department continued to promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), another key disarmament objective for Australia. We supported the Foreign Minister in his role as chair of a ministerial meeting of CTBT member states on 24 September 2008 in New York. The department and the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) participated in a workshop in Jakarta in December 2008 to assist Indonesia’s consideration of CTBT ratification.

As current chair of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organisation, we convened a meeting of states signatories to consider the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 25 May 2009. The CTBT Organisation’s International Monitoring System, which currently includes 17 monitoring facilities in Australia, detected the DPRK test.

The department strongly supported strengthening of the safeguards, security and safety programs of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In our role as a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, we registered Australia’s strong concern about the nuclear programs of Iran, the DPRK and Syria, and urged that those states cooperate fully with the IAEA and comply with their international obligations.

We promoted universalisation of the IAEA Additional Protocol as a vital step in strengthening the IAEA safeguards regime. The Additional Protocol complements the IAEA Safeguards Agreements by providing for additional reporting on nuclear activities and increased inspector access. We also advocated adherence to the Additional Protocol as a condition of nuclear supply.

In cooperation with ASNO, the department provided a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties Inquiry into Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and appeared before the committee at its public hearings.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

Photo - See caption below for description
The then Secretary, Mr Michael L’Estrange AO, opening the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Plenary, which was chaired by Mr John Quinn, MTCR Chair and Assistant Secretary, Strategic Issues and Intelligence Branch, on 5 November 2008.
Photo: Michael Jones
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department continued to lead Australia’s counter-proliferation efforts against weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and conventional weapons. We coordinated Australia’s influential participation in the major export control regimes.

In Australia’s capacity as the incoming chair, we hosted and chaired the annual plenary and technical meetings of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in Canberra in November 2008. The MTCR, which has 34 partner countries, seeks to harmonise national export licensing to prevent the proliferation of unmanned systems capable of delivering WMD. As MTCR chair, we have since undertaken an intensive outreach program to encourage non-members’ adherence to the regime’s goals and export controls.

The department continued to chair the Australia Group, which aims to coordinate export controls covering dual-use chemicals, biological materials, technology and equipment. We organised two intersessional technical meetings and worked to ensure the group’s chemical and biological control lists kept pace with technological and industry developments. We continued to advocate the importance of capturing intangible transfers of technology, watching developments in synthetic biology, and conducting outreach to domestic industry and academic sectors.

As a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we worked towards the objective of consensus among members for a criteria-based approach to limit the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies (uranium enrichment and reprocessing of spent fuel).

The department promoted Asia-Pacific participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), the objective of which is to strengthen practical cooperation to prevent illicit trafficking in WMD, delivery systems and related materials. With the Department of Defence, we participated in the regional PSI exercise hosted by New Zealand in September 2008. International participation in the PSI increased to 95 states during the year.

The department promoted, through workshops and other practical assistance, the strengthening of measures to prevent the spread of WMD-related items and technologies. We advocated full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions aimed at preventing WMD proliferation. We worked with other Commonwealth agencies on visa-screening and related processes with the aim of preventing the illicit transfer of WMD-sensitive knowledge and to enforce UN sanctions measures.

Our leadership of Australia’s participation in the ‘Oslo Process’ negotiations on cluster munitions culminated in the Minister for Foreign Affairs’ signature of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at a ceremony in Oslo on 3 December 2008. The Convention aims to end the suffering and casualties to civilians caused by cluster munitions. The department is coordinating the process for ratification by Australia, including by contributing to consideration of the Convention by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties.

We coordinated Australia’s activities aimed at countering the effects of, and access to, illicit small arms and light weapons, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region. In July 2008, we led Australia’s delegation to the Third Biennial Meeting of States to the UN Programme of Action (PoA) on small arms and light weapons. We organised and hosted a UN PoA regional meeting of Pacific island states and East Timor in June 2009 to promote implementation of the PoA.

We were active in promoting an arms trade treaty with the aim of establishing agreed international criteria and standards for the global trade in small arms and light weapons and other categories of conventional arms. In 2008 the UN-appointed Group of Government Experts (of which Australia was a member) completed its examination of the scope and feasibility of such a treaty and recommended further work. Australia co-sponsored a UNSC resolution which established an Open-Ended Working Group on the Treaty. In concert with the Republic of Korea, we sponsored an inaugural UNSC resolution to prevent and combat illicit brokering activities aimed at circumventing the international arms control and non-proliferation framework.

We maintained Australia’s position at the forefront of efforts to promote the effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention. We were active in coordination roles at the Ninth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention in November 2008.


In September 2008, Mr William (Bill) Paterson PSM was appointed as Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism. The Ambassador led development and implementation of the Government’s international counter-terrorism efforts. He played a key role in coordinating cooperation, capacity-building and operational collaboration between Australian agencies and international counter-terrorism partners, including as chair of the International Counter-Terrorism Coordination Group.

The department led high-level discussions on counter-terrorism cooperation with New Zealand, the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Pakistan, Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The Ambassador chaired the Commonwealth Committee on Terrorism meeting in London in February 2009 and secured agreement on a revised Commonwealth Plan of Action on Terrorism.

The Ambassador led the Australian delegation to the annual trilateral counter-terrorism consultations with the United States and Japan in Washington in October 2008. The consultations reached agreement on trilateral cooperation on initiatives in the areas of bio-terrorism, counter-radicalisation and cash couriers. The department participated for the first time in the US Global Synchronisation Conference, a meeting which seeks to coordinate the various elements of US counter-terrorism policy and programs.

The department undertook consultations on Australia’s counter-terrorism agenda including engagement with Australian universities and policy institutes. The Ambassador participated in the Australia–UAE Dialogue organised by the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE in March 2009.

In December 2008, we expanded Australia’s network of bilateral counter-terrorism memorandums of understanding (MOUs) to include Bangladesh. Australia now has 14 such MOUs, which provide frameworks for practical cooperation between Australian agencies and partner government equivalents.

The department deepened its engagement with the UN to expand the reach and effectiveness of the UN’s counter-terrorism mechanisms. We implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on freezing the assets of terrorists and their supporters, including by contributing to the update of the UN’s listings of terrorist groups and individuals subject to sanctions.

We contributed to capacity-building activities sponsored by regional forums. Under APEC auspices, we organised workshops on detecting and deterring cash couriers and bulk cash smugglers. Australia co-hosted with Indonesia an ASEAN Regional Forum conference on countering terrorists’ use of the internet and a sub-regional workshop on preventing the movement of terrorists across borders.

The department provided support to regional law enforcement capacity-building, including through the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation. The Centre has held over 200 courses for more than 5000 regional law enforcement officers since it was established by the Australian and Indonesian Governments in 2004.

Under the framework of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, in May 2009 the department organised and conducted an international seminar and discussion exercise to promote the safety and security of radioactive materials (DISCEX ‘Blue Glow’). In June 2009 we co-hosted, with the Australian Academy of Science, an international seminar and discussion exercise (DISCEX ‘Green Cloud’) on the safety and security of chemicals of security concern. The department also conducted chemical security training and counter-bioterrorism workshops for South-East Asian countries. All these activities made a substantial contribution to enhancing regional capacity to prevent terrorists acquiring access to WMD materials.

Photo - See caption below for description
DFAT hosted a seminar, “Radiation Incidents: Avoidance, Surveillance and Response”, in Canberra, 7–8 May 2009, under the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), with Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, Mr Bill Paterson (left), and the then Assistant Secretary, Counter-Terrorism Branch, Mr Paul Foley.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

We worked closely with regional governments, non-government organisations and community groups to implement strategies to counter violent extremist ideology and to promote shared values. This included both assisting communities to manage such challenges and improve resistance to extremist messages, and the sponsoring of exchange visits to boost understanding of Australia’s tolerant and pluralist society.

National security and strategic policy

The department was strongly engaged in the implementation of the National Security Statement delivered by the Prime Minister in Parliament on 4 December 2008.

We worked closely with other Government agencies, in particular the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Defence and the Attorney-General’s Department, on a range of national security and strategic policy issues. Our work included strengthening the US alliance, deepening Australia’s cooperation with regional partners, and responding to non-traditional security challenges such as the global economic crisis, climate change and energy security.

We contributed to the development of the 2009 Defence White Paper, and encouraged international understanding of the White Paper by participating in briefings for allies, regional countries and the diplomatic corps.

The department pursued Australia’s commitment to the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue (TSD) with Japan and the United States. We participated in a TSD Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) hosted by the United States in September 2008 and, in April 2009, we hosted a TSD SOM in Canberra. Both meetings discussed issues of strategic interest and identified further opportunities for practical trilateral cooperation. In December 2008, we hosted and chaired the inaugural TSD meeting of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief experts. The meeting agreed on a set of guidelines designed to enhance trilateral cooperation in this field.

We coordinated the participation of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 2008, which focused on natural disasters in the region, including Cyclone Nargis in Burma, and on efforts to improve response capabilities. In April 2009, we took part, with colleagues from AusAID and the Department of Defence, in the first ARF practical exercise, a multinational demonstration of disaster relief response, held in the Philippines. We also coordinated Australia’s participation in a range of other ARF meetings and workshops.

The department contributed to the effective functioning of the Government’s mechanisms to deal with security issues. We supported Mr Smith’s membership of the National Security Committee of Cabinet and the newly established Border Protection Committee of Cabinet. We participated in key strategic policy and coordination bodies, including the Secretaries’ Committee on National Security. We also contributed to the implementation of the Government’s new framework for the expanded national security community, including through participation in the National Intelligence Coordination Committee.


The department will lead Australia’s non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. A successful outcome to the May 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference will be a high priority. We will support the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, including the production of its major report in early 2010, its program of plenary and regional meetings, and its global advocacy. We will provide strong Australian participation in negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

We will work to achieve Australia’s ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and we will continue our international advocacy efforts in support of negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty.

The department will make a major contribution to the development of the Government’s Counter-Terrorism White Paper and its implementation.

We will work to strengthen Australia’s engagement in multilateral counter-terrorism mechanisms and to expand our bilateral and regional counter-terrorism dialogue and cooperation. We will seek to conclude counter-terrorism MOUs with key partners. The department’s extension of efforts into South Asia will involve establishing the frameworks for counter-terrorism cooperation and implementing practical initiatives.

The department will build on Australia’s strong alliance with the United States and with other security partners in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Japan and the Republic of Korea. We will continue to encourage an emphasis by the ASEAN Regional Forum on preventive diplomacy and practical outcomes.

output 1.1 ADDItional information

  2008–09 2007–08
Number of units of policy advice delivered:    
ministerial submissions 2 589 2 495
Cabinet submissions 15 19
ministerial correspondence 9 362 8 625
questions on notice 78 51
speeches1 118 105
briefings not under submission2 6680 4 253
Cabinet briefings for ministers 102 72
meeting briefs 592 446
Number of consultations conducted with other Australian Government agencies, state and territory governments, business and non-government organisations in the context of the department’s development of foreign and trade policy advice3 37 726 41 070
Number of representations made to other governments and international organisations in support of Australia’s international interests4 40 690 37 740
Number of international meetings or negotiations attended, including on behalf of other Australian Government agencies5 13 127 11 198
Number of official programs prepared for DFAT portfolio ministers and senior officials6 664 721
Number of official programs prepared for the Prime Minister, other Australian Government ministers and senior officials6 818 907
Number of reporting cables produced by our overseas posts 87 347 101 657
Number of occasions on which the department has contributed to the development of policies by other Australian Government agencies 6 673 5 238

1 Includes speaking notes for both ministers, the parliamentary secretaries and the senior executive.
2 This figure includes briefings for ministers and senior officers.
3 This figure includes semi-formal consultations such as telephone conversations and email correspondence.
4 The information was collected by all areas of the department, including overseas posts, and collated centrally. The difficulty in defining what constitutes a representation, given our different operating environments overseas, means that this figure is necessarily an approximate one.
5 This figure includes meetings with non-government organisations and business representatives.
6 This figure includes programs prepared for senior officers (broadband 4 level and equivalent and above).

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