Remarks to ARF Nuclear Risk Reduction Workshop

  • Speech, check against delivery


Welcome to Australia for the second ASEAN Regional Forum Nuclear Risk Reduction Workshop, which we are privileged to co-host with the Republic of the Philippines.

Reducing the risks associated with nuclear weapons is as important today as it has ever been. 

The Australian Government remains fully committed to efforts to reduce these risks.

Our region knows too well the devastating consequences both of nuclear weapons and of conflict.

The Indo-Pacific is witnessing the largest military build-up anywhere in the world, with limited transparency and reassurance by some states.

In our region and beyond, states refuse to comply with their non-proliferation obligations or make reckless threats to use nuclear weapons.

A realistic and tangible approach to nuclear risk reduction is an important step forward.

As Foreign Minister Wong has said, “we can all agree we want to live in a region that is peaceful and predictable…

…Where disputes are guided by international law and norms, not by power and size…

and where our relations are based on partnerships and respect”.

These are the fundamental principles we have all undertaken to uphold as parties to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation.

ASEAN's enduring strength is in enabling the space for dialogue and for the peaceful discussion of differences.

As the Foreign Minister has also affirmed, Australia is committed to ASEAN centrality and advancing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific.

Australia has and will continue to work with ASEAN to support the peace and stability of our region.

Australia shares ASEAN's wish for parties in the region to consider how they can best contribute to upholding regional peace and stability, including by reducing the risk of escalation and miscalculation.

Australia works with ASEAN, and members of the ASEAN Regional Forum more broadly, in a spirit of partnership to create the kind of region we aspire to.

To address shared challenges and risks, such as those posed by nuclear weapons.

ARF members may hold different views about the way to manage these risks.

But these differences make institutions such as the ARF important.

Because the purpose of the ARF is to reduce the risk of conflict.

And cooperation with regional partners through workshops such as this can build confidence and trust and make a tangible contribution to addressing global challenges.

All countries that seek to work with the region have a responsibility to engage constructively with, and through, ASEAN.

The Australian Government has committed to do more on non-proliferation and disarmament.

We have promoted the use of nuclear safeguards and we have worked tirelessly with partners to prevent the spread of other weapons of mass destruction.

We are a leading example for the international community on protecting nuclear material.

Australia was the first country to bring into force the Additional Protocol to our Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Australia’s extensive work throughout the region demonstrates our enduring commitment to this goal.

We continue to work with Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and others to build practical safeguard capabilities through the Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network.

We will continue to advance the objectives of the NPT through the twelve nation Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, established by Australia and Japan.

In partnership with other members of the Pacific family, we remain steadfastly committed to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

And Australia has committed to transparency in our ambition to acquire conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarines.

We understand that acquiring this critical capability comes with a responsibility to engage with our friends and partners in the region.

We have been consulting with the IAEA to ensure we set the highest non-proliferation standard.

This Australian Government deals with the world as it is.

We are committed to further strengthen the non-proliferation regime.

Most of all, we remain committed to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

It is my hope that the participants in this workshop share that goal.

I also expect that many of you share Australia’s firmly held view that risk reduction measures are no substitute for tangible progress on disarmament.

But I hope you will also agree that there remain clear and present risks which cannot be ignored.

Through this workshop and other complementary efforts, we have an opportunity to make the world we live in today a safer place.

Safer – so that we can take the steps needed for disarmament.

And so we can pursue our shared goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Let us work together toward a productive dialogue that contributes to the uptake of practical risk reduction measures in our region and beyond.

I wish you well and look forward to hearing of your progress. 

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