I am very pleased to open the recently completed Cape Leeuwin hydroacoustic
monitoring station - one of 20 such stations to be built in Australia
to detect clandestine nuclear explosions.
The $10 million station will form part of a worldwide chain of
321 stations now being established to monitor compliance with the
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The Cape Leeuwin station is significant as one of only six hydrophone
stations in the global chain. Situated on the southwest tip of Australia,
it will monitor for signs of underwater explosions over large areas
of the Indian, Southern and South Pacific Oceans.
Over the last three decades, successive Australian governments
have opposed nuclear testing. But it was not until the 1990s that
the international community had the chance to negotiate a ban at
the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
Adoption of the test-ban treaty by the Conference on Disarmament
was blocked at the last minute but on Australia's initiative, the
treaty was taken to the United Nations General Assembly in 1996
where it was finally passed.
The CTBT has now been signed by 165 countries and ratified by 90,
including Australia. While the CTBT is not yet in force, a ban
on nuclear testing has become a strong and widely accepted standard
of international behaviour.
This new monitoring station is concrete evidence of Australia's
continuing commitment to the CTBT. With 20 such stations and a
laboratory in the pipeline, Australia will have the third-largest
number of monitoring stations of any country.
Thirteen of our eventual 20 stations are already operating as part
of the international monitoring system. Data from them is already
being received in Vienna in preparation for the Test Ban Treaty's
entry into force.
Australia will continue to urge other countries to sign and ratify
the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is required to bring
the Treaty into force.
We will also continue to work tirelessly to complete the verification
system of which the Cape Leeuwin station is a vital part.
Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / Julie
McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555