Australia hosting international counter-proliferation exercise in Cairns

Australia is hosting a maritime-focused exercise as part of international efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the wake of most recent nuclear tests conducted by North Korea.

Taking place in Cairns, Queensland from September 6-9, exercise Pacific Protector is one part of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is an effort by 105 partner countries to build networks, tools and capabilities to counter illicit weapons of mass destruction-related trade across the globe.

Participants will take part in 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 countries within the Indo-Pacific.

The live exercise will comprise Royal Australian Navy frigate, HMAS Toowoomba, 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. Components of the activity will also be held at the HMAS Cairns Navy base.

Australian minister for defense 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.

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

Twenty countries will be participating: 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 Proliferation Security Initiative.