The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

Media Release

FA52 - 19 April 2004

Australia Continues to Lead the Way on Nuclear Test Ban

Key provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Act 1998 come into effect in Australia from today.

This will help Australia to maintain its leading role in international efforts against the testing and proliferation of nuclear weapons.

This includes practical steps, already well advanced in Australia, to develop the International Monitoring System (IMS) which is at the heart of CTBT verification. Australia has in operation 16 of the 21 IMS monitoring facilities it will host.

It will also create an offence in Australian law of causing a nuclear weapon test explosion, or any other nuclear explosion, punishable with a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life. This law will apply to all persons within Australia and to Australian citizens anywhere.

The proclamation of these laws has been made possible following the passage of the Non-Proliferation Legislation Amendment Act 2003, which introduced measures to strengthen Australia's commitment to countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The call for a ban on nuclear testing began in earnest in April 1954. Fifty years on, the goal of a comprehensive ban on the testing of nuclear weapons still has not been realised. But progress has been significant and Australia has played a vital role in building the framework for a legally enforceable ban.

I am proud of Australia's role in 1996, when after two years of negotiation, Australia led international action to take the Treaty to the United Nations where it was adopted by an overwhelming majority of countries.

The requirement that the CTBT be ratified by 44 particular countries before it enters into force is yet to be fulfilled. However, the Treaty has achieved wide international support with 171 countries having signed, and 112 ratified. Australia continues to encourage and assist others toward ratification.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500, Julie McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555



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