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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Cluster 2 Australia, May 12, 1999

Cluster 2

Mr Chairman,

Several delegations have noted at various points this week that the clustering of items in this debate gives us considerable discretion as to which topics we now cover. Believing that our objective is not so much to rehearse national practice and policy, as to suggest elements for plausible consensus that might be forwarded to next year's Review Conference, my intention is to show that there are many such elements under this cluster. Australia looks forward to working with other members on refining these ideas for the Review Conference.

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Verification aspects of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty implementation are one of the most positive accounts to be recognised in the review of the period from 1995. Strengthened safeguards are critical to international security, and should also maximise the NPT's potential by assisting states, in their own interest, to demonstrate to neighbours and the wider international community the absence of undeclared activities on their territories. The development of International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, so as to have greater assurance of the absence of undeclared nuclear weapons-related activities as well as assurance of the non-diversion of declared nuclear material, was approved by the Agency's Board in May 1997. While it is indeed encouraging that more than forty states have since signed Additional Protocols with the Agency, the fact remains that only five have entered into force. Australia's was the first concluded and the first to enter into force. We call on all remaining states to conclude and/or ratify these strengthened safeguards instruments so that an even stronger global safeguards system can be established without any further delay. When Additional Protocols are widely adhered to, we shall want to ensure that the Additional Protocol comes to be regarded as part of what Article ifi of the NPT requires in terms of safeguards. Safeguards as reliable as we can make them are an absolute prerequisite for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. So for the sake of effectiveness and with an eye on efficiency also, we support the IAEA's work to integrate classical and strengthened safeguards measures as soon as possible.

Of course, there is also the prerequisite obligation - not yet universally fulfilled, though we welcome those many further agreements that have been signed or brought into force since 1995 - for all nonnuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT to conclude comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA, without delay. As a corollary, Australia looks for maximum transparency from the nuclear-weapon states in their voluntary-offer agreements, in the cause of universal safeguarding of civilian nuclear activities, and for maximum vigilance on the part of the IAEA in the exercise of consequent inspection rights.

Australia welcomes the adoption in December 1997, initially by nine states, of the Guidelines for the Management of Plutonium, and the September 1998 US-Russian Joint Statement of Principles for the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defence Purposes. We look forward to more fissile material being transferred from military use to peaceful nuclear activities and placed under IAEA safeguards. And in our view, there is scope for fissile-material transparency measures corresponding to those in the Plutonium Management Guidelines to be applied to highly enriched uranium as well.

Still on safeguards topics, the Review Conference should comment on the two most egregious continuing cases of defiance of the NPT norms. The absence of transparency in the North Korean nuclear programme is blocking the international community's entitlement to assurance as to the exclusively peaceful nature of nuclear activities in a state that has committed itself to a safeguards agreement that remains in force. Australia will continue to work with other concerned states and continue through participation in international responses such as the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization programme, to re-establish non-proliferation assurance with respect to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

In the case of fraq, we strongly encourage the UN Security Council in its efforts to establish the conditions for resumed IAEA inspection activity there. None of us can accept Iraq's non-compliance with Security Council Resolutions on the elimination of its weapons of mass destruction.

On related topics about securing the assurance that makes the peaceful uses of nuclear energy responsibly possible, we welcome the adoption of the program for preventing and combatting illicit trafficking in nuclear materials at the Moscow Summit of April 1996, and the IAEA's activities in the fields of prevention, response, training, and information exchange in support of efforts against illicit trafficking. And we urge all states to adopt the IAEA's recommendations on the physical protection of nuclear material (INFCIRC/225IRev.3). We welcome also the November 1997 decision of the International Maritime Organization to incorporate the Code for the Safe Carriage of Irradiated Nuclear Fuel, Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes in Flasks on Board Ships (the INF Code) into the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea. This is part of our recognising the interests of all states in the safe and secure transport of nuclear materials - and the concerns of small island developing states, and other coastal states, about such transport. We shall speak further on nuclear safety in the Cluster 3 debate.

Mr Chairman,

I should like to restate Australia's support, consistent with the 1995 Principles and Objectives, for the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the states of the region concerned. Such zones enhance global and regional peace and make a significant contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament efforts. Australia would like to see all existing nuclear-weapon-free zones which have not yet done so enter into force as soon as possible, and the process of ratification of Protocols by relevant states completed. We welcome progress made to date towards the establishment of a Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. As a party to the world's first nuclear-weapon-free zone, the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone, Australia remains prepared to offer such practical assistance as may be welcome and appropriate in the establishment of new zones.

Australia supports the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process. We also supported the implementation of the agreements reached in the context of the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995, which include the Resolution on the Middle East. Work on the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons uf mass destruction in the Middle East should be intensified as a contribution to peace and stability in the region and internationally.

I should like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the constructive and practical work on nuclear-weapon-free zones that has been undertaken by the United Nations Disarmament Commission and, in particular, the consensus adoption by the Commission of guidelines and principles on the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.