50 Years of protecting Australia from dangerous nuclear proliferation

  • Media release

This month marks 50 years since the landmark establishment of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO).

In July 1974, the Whitlam Labor Government showed global leadership by establishing what is now referred to as ASNO following Australia's ratification of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

ASNO was one of the first agencies of its kind dedicated to preventing nuclear war and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

The establishment of ASNO and Australia's ratification of the NPT has demonstrated Australia's commitment to nuclear non-proliferation to the international community and helped bolster global efforts towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

Over the past 50 years, ASNO been implementing the highest standards of nuclear safeguards to help prevent the misuse of dangerous nuclear material and to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

ASNO has also been central to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, leading Australia's efforts to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). This includes hosting 21 stations as part of the international monitoring system, which is critical to detecting nuclear weapons tests, for example, in North Korea.

ASNO is now working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and AUKUS partners to develop a first-of-its-kind safeguard arrangement for Australia's conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine program that sets the highest non-proliferation standard.

ASNO will continue to work to strengthen global non-proliferation verification standards and support regional partners implement their non-proliferation commitments.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong:

"Australia has a proud history of advocating for non-proliferation and disarmament – and the Albanese Government is continuing this legacy.

"Given that it is nuclear weapons that most risk catastrophe, we must work harder to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

"We will continue to work with others to strengthen the NPT and urge progress on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty."

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