V Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2013


Торопчин Г.В. 1
1Кемеровский Государственный Университет
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Nuclear non-proliferation regime is regarded as a significant component of the global security nowadays. This article deals with the close scrutiny of the role that the Commonwealth of Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany played in the non-proliferation regime over the last two decades. As far as the three-pillar system (cornerstone of the modern nuclear non-proliferation regime, comprising non-proliferation in itself, as well as disarmament and peaceful use of nuclear technology) is concerned, interestingly enough, both countries do not possess any nuclear weapons of their own, thus, cannot themselves participate in the nuclear disarmament process. As such, activities in the nuclear sphere for both states are limited by involvement in the field of non-proliferation (in terms of their international obligations under treaties) and peaceful use of nuclear technologies (namely, functioning of the nuclear power plants in Germany and research reactor in Australia). In this paper, the author predominantly aims at analyzing the first of the so-called pillars, non-proliferation and initiatives that the aforementioned states undertook in this field over the last twenty plus years.

To begin with, both states are signatories to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (or Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT), which forms the legal basis of the contemporary non-proliferation regime. The Federal Republic of Germany signed the NPT on November 28, 1969 and ratified it on May 2, 1975 (including German Democratic Republic that reunited with the West Germany in 1990; signatory since July 1, 1968, ratified the NPT on 31 October, 1969), whereas the Commonwealth of Australia signed the Treaty on February 27, 1970 and ratified it on January 23, 1973 [1].

Both Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany took active part in the NPT review conferences held each five years. Such regular international meetings represent an important instrument of improving the security and safeguards within the regime. At the review conference in 1995, for instance, Germany and Australia (along with a number of other members of Zangger Committee, or Nuclear Exporters’ Committee) submitted a «Multilateral Nuclear Supply Principles» working paper [2]. The same topic was discussed by the states during next several conferences (in 2000, 2005 and 2010), and every time the member countries managed to come up with a working paper, reflecting the realities of the moment. However, having considerable amounts of highly enriched uranium, in 2005 Germany insisted on using it for civilian purposes [3]. The Federal Republic of Germany also underlined the necessity to provide «far-reaching nuclear disarmament measures by the nuclear-weapon states» [Ibid.] Australia, for its part, established International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament in the late 2000s, in collaboration with the Japanese government [4, p. 1]. Australia insisted on the limitation of the countries which are not parties to the NPT (to be precise, India, Pakistan, Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and Israel).

Australia and Germany regard non-proliferation as a matter of regional security in the corresponding parts of the world, too. Australian leaders traditionally paid attention to the country’s special responsibility for the security in the Asia-Pacific region (including South East Asia). Australia was one of the initiators of 1985 Treaty of Rarotonga (that established a nuclear-weapons free zone in the South Pacific) that, according to some specialists, facilitated adoption of the 1995 Bangkok Treaty (commonly known as SEANWFZ i.e. Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty) [5]. Germany is world-famous for organizing interaction between the scientific community and political powers, incl. discussions on the future of nuclear non-proliferation (thanks to numerous events organized by various foundations, such as Heinrich Böll Foundation or Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung).

The Commonwealth of Australia has always underscored deep connection between the non-proliferation and use of nuclear energy and its reliance on American nuclear umbrella (even the Australian Greens confirm that statement in their program). Nevertheless, with the lapse of time and weakening of the ties within ANZUS, this rhetoric was used less and less throughout 1990-2000s. Germany remained among nuclear sharing countries (in accordance with NATO’s policy principles), having U.S. tactical nuclear weapons on its territory. Due to the fact that such a situation can potentially compromise non-proliferation under certain circumstances, some German politicians took a stand in favour of U.S. missiles withdrawal.

One cannot underestimate the involvement of these two countries within the international organizations that help secure non-proliferation around the globe. As such, both states intensively co-operate within the framework of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization since the Treaty was opened for signature in 1996. Transparency with the IAEA is provided through Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO). Germany regularly makes statements at annual IAEA’s general conferences, being third largest contributor to the organization [6].

Another topic in this regard relevant for these actors is the issue of radioactive waste management and transportation. Nuclear waste from the HIFAR and now OPAL research reactors from Australia has been sent to U.S. and France for decommissioning and final disposal. Curiously enough, it is almost the same scenario in case of Germany; however, the FRG disposes of some repositories for nuclear waste on its own territory (e.g. in Gorleben).

Active participation of Australia and Germany in sustaining of the non-proliferation regime can also be explained by heavy influence of the public opinion in the two countries, showing deep concern of the general public with the aspects of non-proliferation. By this is meant the impact of the globally significant events in the nuclear sphere (like Chernobyl catastrophe’s consequences for Germany in the late 1980s and early 1990s). Opinion polls indicate that in 2011 the percentage of those against nuclear power among citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany was around 72% [7], at the same time approx. 61% Australians would be against launching of the first nuclear plant on the continent [8]. Awareness arose in both countries after the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi accident and immediately reflected on the nuclear factor for both states, with Germany’s planned nuclear phase-out by 2022 (law passed in June 2011) and sharp decrease of Australian uranium exports (esp. to Japan).

To sum it up, the Commonwealth of Australia and the Federal Republic of Germany were fully engaged in the activities under the nuclear non-proliferation regime in 1990-2000s, playing an important part in ensuring both global and regional stability. One of the most essential conclusions to be made is that non-proliferation and measures securing peaceful use of nuclear technologies are deeply connected, which can be proved by the example of Australia and Germany over the defined period of time.


  1. Signatories and Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons / Federation of American Scientists // URL: http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/npt/text/npt3.htm (access date: 30/01/2013)

  2. 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Multilateral Nuclear Supply Principles / Official Documents System of the United Nations // URL: http://daccess-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N95/116/21/PDF/N9511621.pdf?OpenElement (access date: 30/01/2013)

  3. Du Preez, J. The 2005 NPT Review Conference: Can It Meet the Nuclear Challenge? / Arms Control Association // URL: http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2005_04/duPreez (access date: 30/01/2013)

  4. Speech by Prime Minister Rudd: “Building on ASEAN’s Success – Towards an Asia Pacific Century”. Singapore, 12 August 2008 / Nuclear Futures? The 2010 NPT Review Conference and Australia's Nuclear Policy Options // URL: http://www.aiia.asn.au/wa-papers/doc_download/295-policy-commentary-nuclear-futures-the-2010-npt-review-conference-and-australias-nuclear-policy-op- (access date: 30/01/2013)

  5. Hamel-Greene M. Australia and regional denuclearization treaties / Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability // URL: http://nautilus.org/apsnet/australia-and-regional-denuclearization-treaties/ (access date: 30/01/2013)

  6. Internationale Atomenergie Organisation (IAEO) / Auswärtiges Amt // URL: http://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/DE/Aussenpolitik/Friedenspolitik/Abruestung/Nukleares/IAEO_node.html (access date: 30/01/2013)

  7. Poll: Germans support abandoning nuclear power, despite extra cost / TheJournal.ie // URL: http://www.thejournal.ie/poll-germany-nuclear-power-644340-Oct2012/ (access date: 30/01/2013)

  8. Clear majority of Australians (61%) don’t want Nuclear Power Plants, but do want to export Uranium for ‘Peaceful purposes’ (59%) / Roy Morgan Research // URL: http://www.roymorgan.com/news/polls/2011/4648/ (access date: 30/01/2013)

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