1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> International Relations >> Australia's security interests


Australia attaches high priority to countering the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and achieving the goal of disarmament.

The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), a joint initiative of the Australian and Japanese Governments, was established in 2008. 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 to achieve the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The Commission’s first major report was released in December 2009.

Australia works to strengthen adherence to and compliance with the major WMD treaties - the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Australia supports strengthening of the safeguards, safety and security programs of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Through active participation in the IAEA and other forums, Australia contributes to international efforts to resolve concerns over the nuclear activities of Iran and the DPRK.

Australia also participates actively in the major WMD export control regimes. Australia chairs the Australia Group, which aims to coordinate export controls covering dual-use chemicals, biological materials, technology and equipment. Australia is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which aims to prevent civilian nuclear trade from contributing to nuclear weapons programs, and of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which seeks to prevent the proliferation of unmanned systems capable of delivering WMD. Australia chaired the MTCR for a year from November 2008. Australia provides practical technical assistance to regional countries to help them improve export control measures so they meet relevant international obligations and strengthen national structures. The Proliferation Security Initiative, which was established to develop practical measures to disrupt illicit trade in WMD, is also a core element of Australia’s counter-proliferation strategy.

Countering the proliferation of certain types of conventional weapons is also a priority. Australia participated in the ‘Oslo process’ negotiations on banning cluster munitions and signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 3 December 2008. Australia promotes the effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.

Australia works to counter access to and the effects of illicit small arms and light weapons, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. Australia is advocating the negotiation of an arms trade treaty with the aim of establishing international criteria and standards for the global trade in a range of conventional arms. As a participant in the Wassenaar Arrangement, Australia contributes to the control of the transfer of conventional weapons and defence and dual-use goods.

Terrorism in our region and globally threatens the security and safety of Australia and Australians. Australia is cooperating closely with the international community, bilaterally and multilaterally, to respond to this security challenge.To facilitate this cooperation, Australia has concluded 14 bilateral counter-terrorism Memorandums of Understanding with Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, PNG, Indonesia, India, East Timor, Brunei, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Australia’s counter terrorism cooperation is concentrated in South-East Asia, where we continue to support regional partners in strengthening their counter-terrorism capabilities in key areas such as law enforcement, legal frameworks, intelligence, border control and transport security, defence engagement, terrorist financing and money laundering, and countering violent extremism. Australia also has strong interests in countering terrorism in South Asia, particularly in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Australia also works to build political support and technical capability for more effective counter-terrorism efforts in regional and multilateral fora. Australia has deepened its engagement on counter-terrorism efforts with the United Nations and contributes to capacity building activities sponsored by the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Reducing the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism is also an important objective. Australia is an active member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, including hosting in May 2009 an international seminar and discussion exercise to promote the safety and security of radioactive materials. Australia’s practical capacity building work in the region promotes awareness of and strengthens the security measures around CBRN sources to deter potential access by terrorists.

Australia’s alliance with the United States of America is indispensable to Australia’s strategic, defence and security interests. Australia judges that the continued engagement and presence of the United States is crucial to the strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Reflecting shared security interests, the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan and the United States of America held a fourth Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Ministerial Meeting in New York in September 2009. Australia is also deepening bilateral defence and security relationships with countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Australia works bilaterally and in regional forums to combat transnational crime. For example, Australia co-chairs with Indonesia the Bali process on people-smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime. The website at <http://www.baliprocess.net> provides more information.

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