Global effort to disrupt proliferation/illicit trade of weapons of mass destruction

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Senator the Hon Marise Payne

Minister for Defence

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  • Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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6 September 2017

The Australian Government is joining forces with countries from around the world to conduct Exercise Pacific Protector 2017, as part of an ongoing major international commitment to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials.

Exercise Pacific Protector will be held in Cairns, Queensland from 6–9 September 2017 as part of the Asia-Pacific Exercise Rotation—a flagship event of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is a global effort by 105 partner countries to build networks, tools and capabilities to counter illicit WMD-related trade across the globe.

Across the four days, participants will take part in a number of different activities, including academic sessions, a table top exercise, a subject matter exchange training program, a live exercise and demonstrations that will facilitate the sharing of intelligence, enhance quick decision-making processes, and deploy capabilities to conduct interdictions that will increase the capacity of PSI countries within the Indo-Pacific.

The live exercise will comprise a Royal Australian Navy Frigate, a Japanese P-3C Orion aircraft, and a Queensland Police vessel in a scenario that will involve the tracking of ships suspected of carrying materials related to weapons of mass destruction.

Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said Australia takes its responsibilities very seriously to ensure the security of the Indo-Pacific region.

“We need look no further than North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs to understand the consequences of failing to prevent proliferation activities.  Pyongyang’s provocative and dangerous behaviour in continuing to test nuclear weapons only serves to heighten our sense of purpose in stopping proliferation,” Minister Payne said.

“The Australian Government is very pleased to be working with our regional PSI partners to enhance our ability to conduct and coordinate counter-proliferation operations.  Trade security is a vital concern in the Indo-Pacific, given that the region hosts major trade routes, transhipment hubs and ever increasing volumes of global of trade.”

“Exercise Pacific Protector 2017 sends a clear signal to all proliferators that their activities are being monitored and that PSI participants are prepared to take action to stop them by enforcing national and international law.”

20 PSI countries will be participating in the Exercise, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Fiji, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, Vanuatu and Vietnam. India will also be observing this exercise as a non-endorsee of the PSI.

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