Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced during her attendance at the Nuclear Security Summit in Hague that Australia will donate A$1m to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Nuclear Security Fund (NSF).
The donation was intended for the following Indo-Pacific activities:
- assisting regional partners to establish effective and sustainable national nuclear security regimes
- strengthening nuclear security cooperation through regional and bilateral programs
- assisting states to adhere to relevant international nuclear security agreements.
"I will continue to promote Australia's nuclear security, non-proliferation and disarmament objectives, when I participate in the next Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) ministerial meeting in Hiroshima in April. The 12 member cross-regional initiative, established by Australia and Japan, seeks to achieve substantive progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation."
The country has a remarkable account of achievements in terms of promotion and improvement of international nuclear security. For two consecutive times, Australia was rated as top country conscientious in its handling of nuclear material.
During the summit, Ms Bishop assured her counterparts that even with Australia's large reserves of uranium, the country remained diligent.
"I assure you that Australia is not last when it comes to nuclear security. In fact, the Nuclear Threat Initiative has ranked Australia first on its nuclear security index. Australia does not have nuclear power nor do we possess nuclear weapons, but we do have the largest reserves of uranium in the world and are the third largest uranium producer. As a responsible supplier of uranium, with agreements in place with most countries represented in this room, we require high standards of security to apply to our uranium."
Ms Bishop shared that Australia continues its expansion of production of radiopharmaceuticals as the country had transitioned from a 1950s highly-enriched uranium fuelled research reactor to a state-of-the-art low-enriched uranium reactor.
For the upcoming nuclear summit on 2016 Australia is aiming for the following:
- evidence of strong and coordinated nuclear security architecture with no gaps
- high standards of security applying to all nuclear material, both civilian and military
- measures to build national and international confidence in the effectiveness of each States' nuclear security regime
- andcooperation between government officials, non-government experts and industry in enhancing nuclear security.
"Let us not be so complacent or unimaginative as a global community that after the unthinkable-a black swan nuclear event-we say "it was bound to happen and as a global community, why weren't we prepared?," Ms Bishop ended.