Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

Further Proliferation of WMD Is Unacceptable and Will Not Be Tolerated

Further Proliferation of WMD Is Unacceptable and Will Not Be Tolerated

First IISS Gulf Dialogue : Australia's policy concerning Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter Proliferation. Speech given by the Hon. Robert Hill, Minister of Defence and Leader of the Australian Government in the Senate in Bahrain on Sunday, December 5, 2004. Source: DoD, Canberra.

Australian Minister for Defence, The Hon Robert Hill (DoD Photo © Commonwealth Copyright)

Let me first express my appreciation to His Majesty King Hamad for agreeing to host this important conference. The personal support for the conference program by His Majesty, and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Salman, is particularly appreciated.

Let me also congratulate the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) for once again demonstrating its unique capacity. It has brought together a wide group of representatives from this important region, and from countries further afield who have an interest in the Gulf.

As Australia’s Minister for Defence, I supported the extension of IISS activities to the Asia Pacific through establishment of the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore, which has now met over three consecutive years. It has quickly earned its place as an important regional security meeting and I hope the Gulf Dialogue does the same.

Australia is a long way from the Gulf. But my country has consistently demonstrated a strong interest in the region. Whether it is through people ties, trade and investment, cultural linkages, or security, Australia has a long history of engagement with the Middle East. Our active security involvement reflects Australia’s judgement that the strategic impact of events here have a world-wide resonance.

Most recently, we participated, of course, in the military operation which removed Saddam Hussein, and still have nearly a thousand military and civilian Defence personnel deployed in this area. I am grateful for the continuing support of Gulf countries for Australia’s deployments.

  • Proliferation

Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, is not a problem unique to the Middle East. We in the Asia-Pacific are particularly focused on the nuclear program of North Korea, but each such program has the potential to affect us all.

The global imperative remains to discourage any further spread of WMD. Most countries have given support for this objective through their signature of the key treaties: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

We assume, I think properly, that the fewer states armed with WMD, the less likelihood there is for use of these weapons. And the less need there will be for other states to feel threatened by the weapons programs (or possible programs) of their neighbours, with whatever strategic advantage this might be thought to entail.

Now of course we also need to be concerned not only by the potential acquisition of WMD by states, but also the interest in WMD displayed by trans-national terror groups. Recognising this possibility, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1540 earlier this year requiring all states to take effective measures to prevent proliferation.

Without doubt, the existence of chronic security problems is a powerful motive for some nations to pursue the development of WMD. Solutions to WMD proliferation must address broad security issues, and persuade nations that their vital interests can be preserved without resort to possession of weapons of mass destruction.

But whatever the claimed justification, the bottom line must be that further proliferation of WMD is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

The record on counter-proliferation is a mixed one. I thought that I would focus on some of the achievements.

  • Iraq

Possibly the most significant positive development has been the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Iraq possessed WMD, and used them both internally and against other countries. Not only did Australia, as one of the coalition countries, believe that Iraq had ongoing WMD programs – I think this conviction was nearly universal – but we accepted the need to take more effective measures in response to Iraq's serial evasion of the inspection and reporting requirements to verify its compliance with international demands.

With the benefit of the Iraq Survey Group reports, following on the reports by various UN inspection groups over the years, we now have a much clearer idea of what Iraq had and didn’t have.

Through the work of the Iraq Survey Group we have a unique insight into the activities and outlook of a regime that was committed to proliferation. The Duelfer report on the work of the Iraq Survey Group has found that, while severe international pressure in the form of sanctions was able to contain the development and proliferation of WMD, Saddam Hussein retained the strong intent to resume weapons programs in his country as soon as sanctions were lifted. To this end, he maintained core capability in Iraq’s WMD research whilst winding down program activity to be below the threshold of inspections.

After a decade of sanctions against Saddam’s regime, the sobering conclusion – and Duelfer is quite specific about this – is that Saddam’s regime maintained the strategic intent to regenerate its weapons programs as soon as international pressure was lifted.

History shows that Saddam did not see WMD simply as a strategic deterrent – he used them.

The world is safer now that this possibility has been permanently removed.

  • Iran

Another positive sign is the recent adoption by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Board of a resolution confirming Iran’s agreement with the EU to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities. This action is the first step towards restoring the global community’s confidence that Iran is committed to non-proliferation. It is vital, however, that Iran maintains full suspension of enrichment and reprocessing and cooperates fully with the IAEA on verification of the suspension agreement with the EU.

It is vital also that Iran cooperate fully with the IAEA to enable resolution of outstanding concerns about Iran’s past undeclared nuclear program. This last week has been a good start to addressing Iran’s nuclear program and the international community will continue to watch Iran’s progress closely.

  • Libya

A success story in cooperative counter-proliferation has been achieved in the case of Libya. It is now nearly a year since Libya announced that it would eliminate its nuclear and chemical weapons programs, abandon its long range missiles, and accept inspections and monitoring to verify all these actions.

It followed this announcement by permitting the removal or destruction of its WMD materials and providing valuable information, particularly about foreign suppliers. International inspections have gone ahead.

In return for such cooperation, the international community has progressively lifted the sanctions previously applied to Libya and is stepping up cooperation with that country.

While there are many reasons for this change in Libya’s policy, the strong approach and consistent action by the international community in general has been instrumental in helping to bring about this resolution.

It takes courage for a nation like Libya to take such a step, but the reward for such courage is much greater than removal of sanctions. Libya has shown WMD programs can be given up peacefully, through open engagement, in ways that add to a state’s future certainty and security.

  • Strengthening of National Controls

Proliferators operate globally so any weaknesses in national controls, including on transhipments and transits, risk being exploited. This is especially true in key transportation hubs such as the Gulf.

Through a number of mechanisms states are giving greater attention to the problem of the inadvertent facilitation of the spread of WMD. For example, as chair of the Australia Group, the export control regime concerned with dual-use chemical and biological materials, Australia would be ready to assist Governments in the region to improve the management of their export controls.

We need also to further engage with commerce and industry to ensure that dual-use materials and technologies do not fall into the wrong hands.

  • Proliferation Security Initiative

The Proliferation Security Initiative is a recent addition to the armoury of counter-proliferation measures. The PSI seeks to build the capability to identify and intercept the illegal transfer of WMD or their precursors. Hopefully, such a capability will act as a deterrent to those proposing to behave illegally.

Australia is a founding member of PSI. We strongly support this initiative because we see the need for new tools to counter proliferation. PSI is a framework and enabler for counter-proliferation activity, not an organisation. It operates within national and international laws, bringing together nations that have committed to act pragmatically and effectively in response to proliferation challenges.

PSI is not aimed at any particular states, but at proliferators in general. Any actions undertaken by PSI supporters to counter proliferation are still the responsibility of national governments, acting in accord with their national interest and international responsibilities.

Since it started only eighteen months ago, PSI has attracted growing international support. More than 60 countries have endorsed the PSI. Numerous PSI exercises have been held to improve interoperability amongst nations for interdicting the illicit movement of WMD materials by sea and air.

Earlier this week I opened the eighth PSI Operational Experts Meeting in Sydney. The meeting welcomed the more active involvement from the Asia Pacific region through the addition of Thailand and New Zealand to PSI activities.

The development of the PSI has been a positive development and can continue to grow and strengthen.

  • Conclusion

With these positive developments to report, and others that I could have mentioned (such as the G8 Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction), why are we still so concerned about proliferation?

An underlying problem for counter-proliferation is the growing capacity for countries to pursue WMD should they wish. Inexorably, it seems, the path to WMD is becoming a less difficult one, because of the increasing availability of relevant knowledge, materials and dual use goods in the globalised world.

The threat is made greater by the existence of proliferation networks able to meet the demand for WMD materials and technology. The most spectacular example is the A.Q. Khan network, which has been characterised as providing a ‘nuclear Wal-mart.’ It is significant that this network could carry out its blackmarket endeavours without national governments and the international community being able to detect and frustrate it at a much earlier stage.

Overall, there is reason to be encouraged by some signs of progress in the fight against WMD proliferation.

At the same time, we must not become complacent. Notwithstanding the achievements that I have noted, the threat of proliferation of WMD is very real and the potential consequences dire.

Countering the threat must remain one of the highest priorities of states. As members of the international community we must show our determination and commitment to work together to effectively counter this major threat to global security.

See also:

Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin

Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).