Output 1.7: Other Non-Proliferation Regimes

Contribution to the development and strengthening of other weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation regimes.

Performance Measures

  • Provide support and assistance to Australia's Permanent Mission to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva in their efforts to advance Australia's non-proliferation and disarmament objectives, in particular, on seeking to commence the negotiation of an internationally verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).
  • Support other developments in the field of non-proliferation and disarmament that are relevant to Australia's interests, such as contribute to the 2019 Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Performance Assessment

ASNO contributes routinely to Australia's efforts to strengthen international non-proliferation efforts by participating in a range of forums or by providing advice and input for briefing and papers prepared by DFAT, such as papers Australia co-authors with like-minded countries to help shape and influence multilateral processes.

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

A ban on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons has long been considered a companion to the CTBT in that it would work to impose a cap on the size of nuclear arsenals. An effectively verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), has the potential to deliver substantial benefits for the security of all States, furthering the twin goals of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. The term ‘fissile material' refers to kinds of nuclear material that are capable of being used in a nuclear weapon.

While there remain significant challenges before such negotiations can commence, a FMCT remains a next logical step in progressing global nuclear disarmament, and continues to be one of Australia's priority nuclear disarmament objectives.

ASNO continued during the year to provide expert support for Australia's efforts to build confidence and momentum in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) towards the commencement of negotiations on an FMCT. A focus of this has been promoting the proposals and options for a future FMCT developed in 2017–18 by the High-Level Expert Preparatory Group. Director General ASNO led Australia's contribution to that group.

International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verifications (IPNDV)

Future steps in nuclear disarmament will pose significant verification challenges. Success in addressing these future challenges will require the development and application of new technologies or concepts, and all states have an interest in the success of these efforts. ASNO with DFAT and ANSTO continue Australia's active contribution to IPNDV's work.

During the reporting period, IPNDV completed its second two-year work phase with publication at www.ipndv.org of reports addressing verification of nuclear weapon declarations, verification of reductions, and technologies for verification. IPNDV's Working Group 5 (co-chaired by DG ASNO) has analysed and described the essential features of multilateral inspections to verify nuclear weapon dismantlement, beginning with monitoring the removal of weapons from delivery systems and ending with the recycling of nuclear material from the weapons for civilian use, or its disposal in proliferation-resistant forms.

A highlight of IPNDV's work in 2019 was the conduct by Germany and France of an on-site exercise testing inspection procedures for confirming that there is no diversion of fissile material. ASNO's Malcolm Coxhead led a team evaluating the exercise, which has recommended lessons that IPNDV can consider in its third work-phase.

Meetings of IPNDV partners planned for 2020 have been disrupted due to COVID–19 impacts. The third work phase is now continuing with experts meeting online.

ASNO's Dr Robert Floyd and Malcolm Coxhead participate in a Nuclear Disarmament Verification (NuDiVe) Exercise, Germany (Credit: Forschungszentrum Jülich and Sascha Kreklau).

ASNO's Dr Robert Floyd and Malcolm Coxhead participate in a Nuclear Disarmament Verification (NuDiVe) Exercise, Germany (Credit: Forschungszentrum Jülich and Sascha Kreklau).