Press Conference following Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative Ministerial Meeting

New York

Transcript, E&OE, proof only

26 September

Senator Carr: Ladies and gentlemen, I am honoured to open comments from my distinguished colleagues here. Might I say at this meeting we resolved to move forward with practical steps that will advance the implementation of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference Action Plan and to pursue the goal, the noble goal, of a world free of nuclear weapons. We acknowledge the efforts of many states towards achieving these objectives. Much needs to be done. We renewed our commitment to contribute to the realisation of a regime across the three pillars of the NPT and, as agreed to at our meeting in Istanbul in June, review our progress and identify future prospects. We, all of us, committed to seeing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and an end to nuclear test explosions for all time. We endorsed the Friends of the CTBT and join in urging the remaining eight Annex 2 states to ratify the treaty as soon as possible. I don't wish to go into more detail because I have got three very distinguished colleagues here who can take up the themes from here. Foreign Minister Gemba from Japan who was co-chair of the meeting.

Other speakers

Senator Carr: Thank you. Time for questions.

Journalist: Senator and Excellencies, what can you point to about this meeting (inaudible) … to allay suspicions that the attention of world leaders is really on financial issues … on direct dealings with Iran and North Korea … on the Middle East and … top leadership tensions … this process at the moment.

Senator Carr: I'll make a stab at that and say something about this before handing over to my colleagues. The challenge is very real. There are immediate crises and the choice here is between the urgent and the necessary. And our work is to labour hard at these tasks to see that in grappling with the immediate challenges, the urgent crises of North Korea and Iran, attention is not wrenched altogether from the longer-term background work. For example, to get that Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, have the controls on fissile material, to have nuclear weapon states honour their obligations, honour their obligations to the ideals of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the 2009 report of the International Commission said, as long as any state has nuclear weapons, others will want them. The work is hard, I agree. But the work is steady and the work has got to be done.

Journalist: Minister, this is something the Netherlands talked about - North Korea and Iran nuclear. I'm wondering what, if any, direct engagement is there with those regimes. Is direct engagement possible on these issues? Have they shown any inclination towards any dialogue and how great a threat do they really pose?

Senator Carr: I would just say there are the P5 plus six talks with Iran and the world has backed that, large parts of the world have backed that, with sanctions. You've got relevant UN Security Council resolutions on the subject. Certainly, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is very, very real and that of North Korea is real to us but real to no more country than that represented by our respected colleague the Foreign Minister of Japan who has Australia's support in all the expressions of concern that his country has made about the prospect of a nuclear-armed North Korea. Again, what North Korea has done is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

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