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Nuclear issues

Australia and nuclear weapons

Does Australia have or want nuclear weapons?

Australia does not possess any nuclear weapons and is not seeking to become a nuclear weapons state. Australia's core obligations as a non-nuclear weapon state are set out in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This includes a solemn undertaking not to acquire nuclear weapons.

What is Australia doing to prevent the spread or use of nuclear weapons?

Australia is a strong supporter of the 'progressive approach' to advancing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. This includes working with nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states on further developing nuclear disarmament, risk reduction and transparency measures, advancing the agenda of the NPDI in implementing the 2010 NPT Action Plan, commencing negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), and promoting the entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

What can be done to advance nuclear disarmament?

Australia works to build a shared vision within key disarmament architecture such as the United Nations General Assembly (First Committee); the NPT; the Conference on Disarmament (CD) and the UN Disarmament Commission (UNDC) to develop consensus towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. This will take time. Achieving a world free of nuclear weapons requires us to create an environment where countries can reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons for their national security. This includes qualitative and quantitative measures to drawn down and eliminate nuclear weapons (the entry into force of the CTBT and negotiating an FMCT) as well as maintaining an effective safeguard systems within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) framework to verify NPT obligations are being honoured. Australia is actively progressing these important practical steps.

What is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)?

The major international treaty on nuclear weapons. This provides enduring benefits in curtailing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, advancing nuclear disarmament and underpinning the right of all nations to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Over 190 states are party to this cornerstone treaty, which has been in place for nearly half a century.

What is Australia's view of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)?

Australia does not support the TPNW which we believe would not eliminate a single nuclear weapon. It has not engaged any state that possesses nuclear weapons in its negotiations and none have signed or ratified. We consider it creates parallel obligations to the NPT and ignores the realities of the global security environment. In addition, it has weaker safeguards provisions than called for by the existing NPT framework, fails to set out how disarmament would be verified or enforced in practice, and it would be inconsistent with our US alliance obligations. As a non-signatory, the treaty’s entry into force on 22 January 2021 does not create legal obligations for Australia.

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