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

Media Release

FA126 10 October 2005

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Australia's Role in Fighting Proliferation

I am pleased to launch a major paper on Australia's role in curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) - one of the greatest security challenges facing the international community today.

The global security environment has changed markedly over recent years. The Australian Government takes very seriously the possibility of irresponsible states and terrorists obtaining and using nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

The paper highlights how the immediate and emerging threats posed by the spread of WMD demand new and practical responses to confront these challenges. It outlines Australia's multidimensional strategy to protect Australia and Australian interests from the threat of WMD proliferation.

Australia is at the forefront in developing the international system of non-proliferation treaties and export control regimes - the first line of defence against the misuse of sensitive materials and technology. We urgently need to address gaps in this system to stay one step ahead of proliferators.

The Proliferation Security Initiative, which Australia actively supports, demonstrates the opportunities for innovative thinking to combat illicit trade in WMD and missile-related items as it occurs.

As chair of the Australia Group, Australia is at the vanguard of new approaches to cut supply to those seeking to develop chemical and biological weapons.

The Government has taken measures to strengthen Australia's domestic controls against the risk of WMD terrorism, including enhancing the capacity of our intelligence agencies to detect the spread of WMD and respond to evolving threats.

We are also cooperating with countries in our region to improve the security of sensitive materials and technology to ensure they are well protected from terrorists and proliferators.

Preventing proliferation is everybody's business. The challenges we face are complex and have global implications. The Australian Government will continue to lead the way in building peace, security and prosperity for our own region and beyond.

An electronic version of the paper is available.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500, DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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