The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA15 - 28 February 2003

Australian to Head Review of On-Site Inspection Program

I welcome the announcement that former Australian diplomat Richard Starr will lead a review of the development of arrangements for on site inspection under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

On site inspections will be an important mechanism for investigating serious concerns about compliance with the Test-Ban Treaty. Details of how such inspections should work are being developed by the CTBT's Preparatory Commission, and Australia is an active contributor to that development.

Mr Starr will lead an international group that will meet in Vienna in May 2003 to review progress of this work and to make recommendations on how best to advance preparations ahead of entry into force of the Treaty.

Before retiring, Mr Starr held appointments as Australia's Ambassador for Disarmament in Geneva and Permanent Representative to the UN for Arms Control and Disarmament from 1994 to 1996. He was Australia's chief negotiator for the CTBT negotiations.

Australia's strong support for the Test-Ban Treaty is based on the view that a complete and effective ban on nuclear testing will help prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and constrain their development.

The work of the CTBT Preparatory Commission on On-Site Inspection involves the development of technical verification methods and procedures which must take account of a wide range of national concerns. The Commission is also tasked with establishing a global monitoring system intended to detect any clandestine nuclear testing. Australia will host 21 of the 337 facilities in that system.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Julie McDonald (Departmental) +61 02 6261 155