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

Media Release

FA151 - 4 December 2003

Australia to Join US Missile Defence Program

The Australian Government has made an in-principle decision to participate in the US Missile Defence program.

Australia has long been concerned about the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

We believe that taking part in the US program will serve our strategic interests, help us defend Australia and allow us to make an important contribution to global and regional security.

The program is designed to protect the United States and its allies and their territories and deployed forces from ballistic missile attack.

In the first instance, the defence program aims to dissuade countries from developing ballistic missile programs and secondly, aims to negate any threat of missile attack.

Participating in such a collective effort also contributes to Australia's non-proliferation and counter-proliferation goals.

Our long and vigorous alliance with the United States benefits the security of both countries and will be strengthened by our participation in missile defence.

We will work with the United States to determine the nature of our participation and in doing so, we will look for opportunities to enhance our own capabilities.

The nature of our participation will depend on many factors including our own strategic defence needs, regional considerations, industry capabilities and financial considerations.

The US Missile Defence program is in its initial stages and will develop over the years. Australia's participation will also evolve to suit our particular strategic needs and circumstances and is expected to create opportunities for Australian industries.

Australia remains committed to working with friends and allies to maintain peace and stability in the region. We will keep them informed of developments in Australia's participation in missile defence and related issues of strategic stability as part of our regular dialogues.

Media enquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministers office) (02) 6277 7500 - Julie McDonald (Departmental) (02) 6261 1555

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