Address to Nuclear Security Summit

  • Speech, check against delivery

Mr President, we meet during a time of great challenges with terrorist organisations such as ISIL and Al-Qaeda, and other non-state actors threatening the global order.

These groups have long harboured ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons or the material to build so-called 'dirty bombs'.

As pressure grows on ISIL in particular, there will be increasing desperation within these groups to inflict even greater harm against our societies.

A fundamental responsibility of the international community is to deny terrorists access to the nuclear materials they seek. They must not succeed.

There is a great deal of support we can provide to each other, bilaterally, regionally and through international organisations – principally the IAEA – to achieve this goal.

Individual responsibility is critical – those nations with nuclear materials must secure them, other nations must support them. Global coordination is vital including through organisations such as Interpol.

The IAEA cannot replace the responsibility that lies squarely with individual governments who are accountable to the collective.

Australia has worked hard to adopt world's best practice, which is an ongoing process to ensure we are ahead of those who would seek to do us harm.

Today, I highlight just two of the actions we have taken to improve nuclear security. The balance is listed in our national statement.

First, Australia has minimised our use and holdings of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

We have replaced our research reactor that was converted from HEU fuel, with a low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuelled reactor and also use LEU targets to produce nuclear medicine.

This has contributed to a reduction in our HEU holdings that were at one point close to 300 kg and now are less than 3 kg. We are now working to triple our production of nuclear medicine thus reducing the global reliance on HEU. We are also constantly reviewing our research needs for the remaining small amount of HEU.

Second, we have benefited greatly from our first IAEA Physical Protection Advisory Service or IPPAS peer-review mission in 2013. This review produced 9 recommendations and 24 suggestions for improvement and identified 10 examples of good practices that may assist other states. These include:

  • use of security hotlines
  • nuclear security culture programs at our reactor
  • Insider threat mitigation programs; and
  • testing of on-site responses

We have implemented most recommendations and suggestions and have invited the IAEA to conduct a follow-up mission in 2017. We have also provided staff to participate in IPPAS missions in other countries.

I encourage all states to take full advantage of this valuable learning opportunity.

We have been ranked top of the Nuclear Threat Initiative's global review of nuclear security three times in succession. We have the world's largest uranium resources. We are a significant producer and exporter, I believe this recognition acknowledges Australia's commitment to:

  • a comprehensive set of international treaties and standards,
  • a high quality nuclear security regulatory framework, and
  • a high degree of transparency without compromising security.

Mr President, with this nuclear security summit being the last planned for now, Australia calls on all present to stand by our commitments, to maintain vigilance and to sustain our efforts for the continuous enhancement of global nuclear security.

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