The position of Director General, Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) embraces the statutory responsibilities of Director of Safeguards, Director, Chemical Weapons Convention Office (CWCO) and Director, Australian Comprehensive Test Ban Office (ACTBO). The Director General reports directly to the responsible Minister. Since 1994 this has been the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
ASNO is staffed through DFAT on the basis that it is a division within the Department. The Director General is a statutory officer, while all other staff were employed under the Public Service Act 1999, on a full-time basis.
The Non-Proliferation Legislation Amendment Act 2003 amended the legislation administered by ASNO, inter alia, to enable the separate Offices and Director positions to be formally consolidated under a common title.
ASNO ensures that Australia's international obligations are met under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Australia's NPT safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and Australia's various bilateral safeguards agreements (of which there are currently 20).
ASNO has four main areas of responsibility in the nuclear area: the application of safeguards in Australia; the physical protection and security of nuclear items in Australia; the operation of Australia's bilateral safeguards agreements; and contribution to the operation and development of IAEA safeguards and the strengthening of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
ASNO ensures that Australia's international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) are met while at the same time ensuring that the rights of relevant areas of the chemical industry are protected. ASNO also promotes effective international implementation of the CWC, particularly in Australias immediate region. A further activity is to contribute to activities to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
ASNO co-ordinates work in Australia developing the verification system for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), including the establishment and/or upgrading of Treaty monitoring facilities. ASNO also contributes to the technical work of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission developing procedures for the conduct of CTBT verification activities.
The staff of ASNO have significant experience in international WMD (weapons of mass destruction) verification regimes and methods, specifically: nuclear technology and safeguards, CWC verification issues and CTBT processes and procedures. Drawing on this expertise and an international network of contacts in other governments and organisations, ASNO provides advice to Government and other bodies and contributes to the policy-making process.