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Monday, 22 March 2004
Page: 21630


Senator Allison asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 February 2004:

What is the Government's response to the following comments made by Mr Al-Baradai, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency on 12 February, and if the Government agrees with any of these comments, what action does the Government intend to take in relation to each:

(1) The 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) needs to be revisited and toughened to bring it in line with the demands of the 21st Century.

(2) Tougher inspections in the NPT Additional Protocol should be mandatory in all countries.

(3) The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) needs to be transformed into a binding treaty.

(4) Controls over the export of nuclear material should be tightened by universalising the export control system, removing loopholes and enacting binding, treaty-based controls.

(5) The Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, stalled for nearly 8 years, must be revived which would put an end to the production of fissionable material for weapons.

(6) Nuclear weapons inspectors must be empowered with much broader rights of inspections and the IAEA should have the right to conduct inspections in all countries.

(7) Withdrawal from the NPT should not be allowed and, at a minimum, withdrawal should prompt an automatic review by the United Nations Security Council.

(8) Atomic weapons states who have signed the NPT - the US, China, Russia, Britain and France - should move towards disarmament, as called for in the pact.

(9) Recent non-proliferation agreements between Russia and the United States should be verifiable and irreversible.

(10) A clear road map for nuclear disarmament should be established - starting with a major reduction in the 30,000 nuclear warheads still in existence.

(11) We must [also] begin to address the root causes of insecurity. In areas of longstanding conflict like the Middle East, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula, the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction - while never justified - can be expected as long as we fail to introduce alternatives that redress the security deficit.

(12) We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security - and indeed continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.


Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The following answer has been provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the honourable senator's question:

(1) The Government supports efforts to strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

(2) The Government regards the Additional Protocol as the current standard for IAEA NPT safeguards and is pursuing wide application of the Additional Protocol including through outreach to regional countries.

(3) The Government considers the most practical approach is to lift the current standards of compliance and enforcement by strengthening and broadening the existing non-proliferation regimes.

(4) The Government has been intensifying efforts to ensure that exports of nuclear material and sensitive nuclear technologies cannot contribute to weapons programs.

(5) The Government supports negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

(6) Australia has urged states to sign and ratify an Additional Protocol which empowers nuclear safeguards inspectors with broad inspection rights.

(7) The Government supports further examination by NPT parties of the issue of NPT withdrawal.

(8) The Government maintains a commitment to disarmament based on balanced and progressive steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Australia continues to encourage the nuclear weapon states to pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament under the commitment they have made in the NPT.

(9) The Government regards verification and irreversibility as key principles for nuclear disarmament.

(10) The Government believes that, for the time being, the main steps towards nuclear disarmament are best pursued bilaterally, between the United States and Russia.

(11) The Government takes the view that WMD proliferation is never justified.

(12) The Government is committed to the eventual elimination of all nuclear weapons.