Launch: Australia and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 1945–1974

Crawford School of Public Policy | Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament

Event details


Date & time

Wednesday 25 September 2013


Hedley Bull Building Lecture Theatre 1


Melissa Conley Tyler, Australian Institute of International Affairs; Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds, University of Newcastle; Professor Ramesh Thakur, Crawford School of Public Policy; Mike Smith, Conference on Disarmament; Gillian Bird, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.


Robert Luton
6125 8251

On Wednesday 25 September 2013 the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND) in association with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian Institute of International Affairs will host a public seminar to mark the official launch of the latest volume in DFAT’s Documents on Australian Foreign Policy series: Australia and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, 1945–1974.

The volume, edited by Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds (University of Newcastle) and Dr David Lee (Historical Publications, DFAT), draws on unpublished records from the National Archives of Australia to document the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) from an Australian perspective.

Commencing in 1945 with early post-war efforts to control nuclear energy following the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the volume traces Australia’s changing attitude to the issue of nuclear arms control and disarmament during the Cold War years of the 1950s and 1960s and its ambiguous approach to the acquisition of nuclear weapons in the subsequent negotiation of the NPT. While the Department of External Affairs (DEA) led the debate in Canberra favouring Australian signature and ratification of the treaty, other agencies strongly believed that Australia should develop a defensive nuclear capability and therefore had reservations about committing to the NPT. The DEA view won out. Signed by the Australian government in 1970 and ratified in 1973, the NPT has formed a fundamental plank in Australian attitudes and policies towards international efforts to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons.

The seminar will be chaired by the Executive Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, Ms Melissa Conley Tyler, and includes presentations by Associate Professor Wayne Reynolds, a co-editor of the volume who will discuss the historical aspects of Australia’s NPT negotiations in the 1950s and 1960s; Professor Ramesh Thakur, who will talk about the role of the NPT as a norm-building institution in international affairs; and Mr Mike Smith, a former Ambassador for Disarmament who will focus on the challenges and rewards of negotiating and implementing the NPT at the multilateral level. Acting Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ms Gillian Bird, will officially launch the volume.

The book will not be on sale on the night, but can be purchased on the DFAT website at:

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