OUTCOME 1: Australia's national interests protected and advanced through contributions to international security, national economic and trade performance and global cooperation
1.1.8 & 1.2.8 SECURITY, NUCLEAR, DISARMAMENT AND NON-PROLIFERATION
The departments efforts to enhance Australias national security took place against a background of regional fluidity, including a democratic transition in Indonesia, political turbulence in the South Pacific, and changes in the North Asian strategic environment, especially on the Korean Peninsula. In our wider region, relations among the major powers remained generally constructive. Where differences arose, including between the United States and China, we urged restraint and a focus on shared interests, and worked for the restoration of dialogue and cooperation on issues with important economic and strategic implications for the region. At the global level, however, tensions between the major players hindered progress in the Conference on Disarmament and other arms control negotiating forums.
In the Asia-Pacific region, we gave priority to bilateral ties, conducting eight regional security dialogues, allowing us to advocate Australian positions and develop common understandings on key security issues.
Our involvement in multilateral dialogue mechanisms complemented these bilateral efforts. At the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in July 1999 and in the lead-up to the ARF in July 2000, both of which Mr Downer attended, the department:
- played a key role in ensuring North Koreas admission to the forum;
- influenced the forum decision to begin developing a preventive diplomacy capacity; and
- made suggestions that were adopted by the claimant countries directly involved on the approach to a code of conduct on the South China Sea.
We ensured that Australias foreign policy interests were taken into account in the preparatory work on the White Paper on the future role and structure of the Australian Defence Force, working closely with the Department of Defence.
At the global level, the departments work helped strengthen regimes limiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We made representations to a wide range of countries to emphasise the importance of maintaining the essential security benefit of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We pursued negotiations for a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention and contributed to enhanced verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. We also helped strengthen export controls to prevent diversion of dual-use technology to chemical and biological weapons programs.
Through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), the department ensured that Australia met its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. We continued our strong support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which underpins our own network of bilateral safeguards agreements, ensuring Australian uranium is used solely for peaceful purposes. We also implemented new importexport and inspection procedures under the Chemical Weapons Convention. All of these measures will help ensure Australia continues to lead by example on nuclear safeguards and implementation, as well as on other non-proliferation issues.
There was a lack of progress in some areas. We supported the US Administrations ultimately unsuccessful effort to secure US Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. We continued work with several key countries on the South Asia Task Force to press for Indian and Pakistani compliance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 (calling on India and Pakistan to refrain from further testing), including signature of the test-ban treaty. We also continued to press for a start to negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. Despite the lack of concrete results, our continued representations in these areas helped sustain the international consensus on their value as key non-proliferation and disarmament objectives, in an international environment that was not propitious for progress.
Against a background of low international expectations, the department, through a campaign of international representations, helped secure a positive outcome at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. For the first time since 1985, agreement was reached on both a review of the treaty and a series of steps to further its non-proliferation and disarmament objectives. The treaty is of crucial importance to Australian and global security, and the outcome was a welcome reaffirmation that it is the best vehicle for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and moving towards nuclear disarmament.
The departments pre-Review Conference campaigns in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), universal acceptance of the IAEAs strengthened safeguards system and conclusion of overdue safeguards agreements proved influential in achieving our desired results. This involved representations to 36 countries on the treaty and 65 countries on safeguards. Australia developed proposals jointly with Japan that were accepted by the review conference, and coordinated a group of ten countries in Vienna (G10) that prepared papers forming the basis for much of the agreement reached on safeguards and peaceful use issues.
In support of our efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we maintained strong support for the CTBT. To promote its early entry into force, Australia played an influential role as Vice-President at the first Article XIV Conference of the treaty. Before and after the conference, the department promoted further ratifications of the treaty. In the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission, we worked towards ensuring the treatys verification system would be ready when it came into force, and were instrumental in the commissions decision to give higher priority to development of the treatys on-site inspection regime.
Despite Mr Downers strong support for US ratification of the treaty and our intensive effortsincluding personal representations to key senators by our Ambassador to the United Statesthe US Senate failed to ratify the treaty. Although this was deeply disappointing to the Australian Government, the department has continued to encourage the US Administration to maintain its efforts to build support for ratification.
The department ensured that Australian national and regional security interests were taken into account during negotiations on a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention. Australia worked to bridge differences and resolve the more difficult issues. Through the National Consultative Group, comprising representatives from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors, we consolidated our relationship with industry and represented their views in the negotiations. We received positive feedback from group members on our consultations with industry. We also led efforts to convene a ministerial meeting to provide the impetus to conclude the protocol in 2000. Too many issues, however, were unresolved for the meeting to go ahead, and we are now concentrating our efforts on meeting the agreed 2001 target date for its conclusion.
As a Vice-Chair of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Australia chaired the key working group on the industry cluster of issues. Our coordination helped achieve consensus decisions in a number of problematic areas. The decisions make the organisations industry verification regime more effective, and will provide greater certainty for the Australian chemical industry in dealing with scheduled chemicals under the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Through ASNO, the department organised four routine inspections by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons during the year, three of which were at industry facilities. This ensured Australia fulfilled its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and increased industry familiarity with verification procedures under it. ASNOs contribution to initiatives in Singapore and Vietnam also helped regional countries meet convention verification requirements.
In October 1999, the department coordinated and chaired a productive annual meeting of the Australia Group of countries involved in the export or transhipment of potential inputs for chemical and biological weapons. The meeting agreed on additions to its common control lists and on transparency measures. Following the meeting, we coordinated an expanded outreach program by group participants, in addition to our own annual outreach program involving some 40 other governments. Feedback suggests the outreach program has increased international understanding of the security benefits of the Australia Groups activities in harmonising national-level export controls on chemical and biological weapons.
We also promoted international acceptance of nuclear export controls through our regional dialogue with 19 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and strongly supported export controls at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference on the basis of the contribution they make to nuclear non-proliferation. We helped improve the effectiveness of these controls, particularly in our work as Chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group Dual-Use Regime. We initiated new arrangements to enhance Australias controls on intangible technology transfers relevant to weapons of mass destruction.
In support of the Missile Technology Control Regime, we conducted an outreach program in South-East Asia to encourage regional countries to apply strict export controls on the transfer of dual-use technology. We contributed to consideration within the regime of new means to combat missile proliferation and supported the establishment of a round-table dialogue between the regime and non-member countries. We made bilateral representations urging countries in areas of tension to refrain from developing and testing ballistic missiles.
In support of the Governments commitment to greater transparency in the international arms trade, the department contributed to the work of the Wassenaar Arrangement, the main international control regime for conventional weapons. In particular, the department supported work aimed at making reporting of small arms transfers mandatory.
The department was the lead agency in the preparation of the Governments policy on international small arms proliferation and misuse. We consulted community groups on the policy, which was released by Mr Downer in July 1999. We also conducted outreach exercises in the South Pacific and South-East Asia to encourage the development of regional approaches to the problems caused by the proliferation of small arms. The department is coordinating the Governments contribution to the 2001 International Conference on the Illicit Trafficking of Small Arms.
We maintained our support for Mr Downers long-term commitment to achieving a world without landmines. The Landmines Ban (Ottawa) Convention came into force for Australia on 1 July 1999 and the bulk of Australias stockpile of anti-personnel landmines128 161 in totalwas destroyed in SeptemberOctober 1999, four years before the Ottawa Convention deadline. We continued to contribute to international efforts to eliminate the production, transfer and use of landmines and to encourage further adherence to the convention. We raised awareness of the convention internationally, focusing on the South Pacific and South-East Asia. We also contributed to raising awareness domestically about landmines through support for the Destroy a Minefield initiative. As at 30 June 2000, 137 countries had signed the convention and 99 had ratified it.
A high priority for Australia was supporting the IAEAs program to strengthen the international nuclear safeguards system, because the systems effectiveness and credibility limits the risk of nuclear proliferation and allows Australia to export uranium for peaceful purposes.
We contributed to the program in a number of ways. The Director General of ASNO participated in the IAEAs Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation. ASNO also managed a program of safeguards-related research and development, including a contribution from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. We continued to encourage other states to join the strengthened safeguards system (13 states signed additional safeguards protocols during the year). Australia was also one of only two countries that the IAEA has so far been able to conclude had no indication of undeclared nuclear material and activities.
Through our position on the IAEA Board of Governors, we pushed for improved management of the agency. By pursuing greater efficiencies and the application of results-based programming, we helped ensure the agencys focus was on the effective use of funds and the prioritisation of projects, rather than on the amount of funds allocated. We supported the agencys efforts to streamline its operations and identify cost-saving measures. As a result of its effective management efforts, the agency continued to receive favourable reports from independent auditors and is widely regarded as an efficient organisation within the UN system. We also led productive inter-agency discussions on the IAEAs work with the head of the agency during his Guest of Government visit in January 2000.
The department, including through ASNOs work on verification aspects, helped maintain international momentum on issues to be addressed in a future Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.
The department carried through Mr Downers initiative to engage the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the ARF, leading to the decision of the Senior Officials Meeting in May 2000 to recommend to ARF ministers that the DPRK be admitted (see also sub-outputs 1.1.1 and 1.2.1). Agreement by the July 1999 ARF ministerial meeting to develop preventive diplomacy was in large part achieved as a result of departmental advocacy. Our advice to Mr Downer on suggestions for the content of a Code of Conduct for the South China Seaas conveyed by him at the ARFhas been substantially adopted by the claimant countries concerned, contributing to the peaceful management of the issue.
Through dialogues on regional security with Japan, China, Russia, Thailand, South Korea, the United States, Germany and France, the department has built support for Australian positions on key security issues, including the importance of continuing US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, the stability of the Korean Peninsula, and the international response to developments in East Timor. The dialogues also contributed to stronger strategic relationships with our allies and regional partners, which in turn contributed to regional stability.
Through our comprehensive network of bilateral safeguards agreements, we continued to ensure that all exported Australian uranium and subsequently derived nuclear material, as well as nuclear-related technology, was used only for peaceful purposes. Australia has bilateral agreements with 14 countries and with Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community), which include strict safeguards, verification and physical protection measures. Our nuclear policy consultations with Japan, the Republic of Korea and Euratom during the year ensured the full implementation of the respective agreements.
The department concluded a complementary safeguards agreement with the United States, enabling the transfer of cutting-edge uranium enrichment technology between an Australian company and its US partner. The technology, if successful, will reduce the cost of producing low-enriched uranium for power generation, and may have further applications in the semiconductor industry and in medicine.
A safeguards agreement with New Zealand facilitated the export of small quantities of uranium oxide for use as colouring agents for glass. We gained parliamentary approval to sign a treaty-level exchange with Japan, allowing two new facilities to be added to the agreed fuel cycle list. We also negotiated an exchange of letters with France, enabling the transfer of Australian spent fuel elements from the Lucas Heights reactor for reprocessing.
We participated in preparations for the security of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, maintaining close liaison with intelligence and protective security agencies. We provided advice on international issues that might lead to threats against visitors to the Games, or to the Games themselves. Our information and advice played a key role in planning the route for the Olympic torch relay in the South Pacific. We were also a full participant in three national anti-terrorist exercises focused on the Olympics, ensuring international dimensions were properly factored in to security planning.
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