This conference aims to combat the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world. It will build commitment towards ensuring that rogue states and terrorist groups cannot access and misuse nuclear and radiological material.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

Ministers from Asia-Pacific countries and the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr Mohamed ElBaradei, will attend.

<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Australia places a high priority on cooperation with our regional neighbours on nuclear security.

This conference will open new opportunities for practical engagement on nuclear security issues, especially efforts to protect against nuclear terrorism.

While the risk of nuclear and radiological terrorism is less than attack by conventional means, the awful consequences of nuclear terrorism make it imperative that the global community take this emerging threat seriously.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said: “I am opening the conference and will also take the opportunity to discuss nuclear issues, including Iran’s nuclear program, with Dr ElBaradei and other participants.”

The conference will also contribute to regional preparations for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, to be held in New York in May 2005.