Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Austria
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Slovakia and Slovenia

Agenda Item: Any Other Business - BAN TREATY

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting: 15 June 2017

Statement by HE Dr Brendon Hammer, Resident Representative to the IAEA

Agenda Item: Any Other Business - BAN TREATY

 

Thank you, Chair.

I take the floor – as have others – to provide Australia’s view on the formal letter inviting the IAEA to be involved in the negotiation of a “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons” - otherwise known as “the ban treaty”.

But first let me be clear that Australia shares completely in the goal of attaining a world free of nuclear weapons. That is what we want. And we are committed to pursuing that goal in an effective, determined and pragmatic way. 

We do sincerely believe that the best chance the world has to eliminate nuclear weapons is to take a progressive, step-by-step approach.

This is why we are committed to advancing practical ‘building blocks’ to advance disarmament, including through:

  • our involvement with the cross-regional Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative – the NPDI – with the aim of achieving the full implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan
  • progressing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty;
  • participating in the UN-mandated Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty expert preparatory group
  • and working with the nuclear weapon states and others to develop practical verification tools for nuclear disarmament.

Chair,

Australia has made a decision not to participate in the nuclear weapons ban treaty negotiations. 

We believe these negotiations are polarizing and will, in the end, prove ineffective in eliminating or reducing nuclear weapon arsenals.

Chair,

In direct connection to the letter of invitation, Articles III, V and VI of the Statute – on the Agency’s functions – and on the roles and responsibilities of the General Conference and Board of Governors – confer on the Board of Governors a solemn responsibility to ensure that the establishment, administration and application of safeguards pursuant to a multilateral arrangement are consistent with the IAEA’s function as a neutral, technical organization. 

So as a member of the Board of Governors – and in line with our national position – which prefers a pragmatic ‘building blocks’ approach to nuclear disarmament – Australia cannot support any request for the Agency to be involved in any way in the current ban treaty process. 

Finally Chair, on a different matter, my delegation regrets that the issue of Israel’s nuclear capabilities has been raised again.  This is outside the competence of the Board and constitutes an unwelcome politicisation of our proceedings.

Thank you, Chair.