U.S., Australia Enhance Defense Technology Cooperation
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
SYDNEY, Australia, Jul. 17, 2000 The United States is increasing military cooperation with Australia and has agreed to share more defense technology with the land down under.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen (left) and Australian Defense Minister John Moore sign the Statement of Principles Enhancing Cooperation in Matters of Defense Equipment and Industry at the Maritime Headquarters in Sydney, Australia. The signing was on July 17, 2000. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and Australian Defense Minister John Moore signed an agreement July 17 at the Maritime Headquarters here. The pact lays out principles for export procedures, industrial partnerships, research and development, reciprocal defense trade and other mutual cooperation initiatives.
The United States and Australia have a long-standing relationship on a spectrum of defense activities, senior U.S. officials said. The new agreement is expected to produce a stronger U.S.-Australian industrial base and improve the defense industrial security posture of both nations, they said. Working groups are to implement arrangements as quickly as possible, they added.
The agreement gives Australia greater access to U.S. technology, "something which we have been seeking for some considerable time," Moore said. Australia depends on good technology because of its relatively small defense force, he said, noting that he and Prime Minister John Howard are willing to increase defense spending.
"We must have the best of the best," Moore said. "It's pretty clear to me that the United States, who is spending something of the order of 30 times more than we spend on defense, have the best technology and if we can leverage from their work, it would be highly beneficial to the Australian Defense Force."
Australia will outline strategic necessities and realities in the region in a white paper due at the end of the year, he said. Australian officials also plan to involve the public in determining the future size and shape of the nation's defense forces.
Cohen saluted Australia as "a strong ally and an effective partner" and said the alliance is an anchor to U.S. policy in the Pacific region. "We share three important goals: to maintain peace and stability, to promote free trade and economic growth and to advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law," he said.
In the past year, he said, Australia has taken the lead in meeting challenges in these areas. During meetings with Moore, Howard and Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer, Cohen said, he also discussed the situation in East Timor, Fiji and the Solomon Islands.
"I want to personally take this opportunity to thank Australia for an effective, highly professional job that it's doing in East Timor (and) for protecting evacuated Americans in the Solomon Islands," Cohen said.
He took the occasion to contest press reports that the United States has renewed arms sales to Indonesia. "What we have tried to do is to re-engage Indonesia on a military- to-military level," he said.
Cohen's Sydney visit came on the heels of a four-day visit to China. In Beijing and Shanghai, the secretary addressed concerns about the proposed deployment of a U.S. national missile defense system. China and Russia, oppose the system, claiming it will cause an arms race and destabilize international relations.
Media attention in Australia focused on the national missile defense system as well. In a July 16 interview with Nine Television Network, Cohen said U.S.-Australia facilities "could be very much involved" if the United States decides to deploy a system. One such facility, he suggested, could be the Pine Gap satellite relay station near Alice Springs in southcentral Australia
"We are very pleased that the Australian government has been supportive of the research (and) development," Cohen told "Sunday" program host Laurie Oakes. Australian leaders "understand the nature of the threat that our citizens will face in the future when countries such as Iran have a long- range missile capability," he said.
A day earlier, Iran tested a Shahab-3 medium-range missile capable of reaching Israel or U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. It was Iran's second test; the first test in 1998 failed. Iran is also reportedly working on a long-range Shahab-4 missile. Cohen said Iran's missile development effort is "one of the reasons why it's important for the United States to undertake to research, develop and potentially deploy an NMD system."
Cohen pointed out that the system under development is designed to protect the United States from a limited ballistic missile attack. It is not aimed at Russia or China, he stressed. Its aim is to protect the American people against Iran, Iraq and North Korea and any other nations pursuing long-range missile capabilities.
The secretary stressed that President Clinton has not yet decided whether to deploy the system. He said defense officials' recommendations to the president will take these factors into account: "What is the nature of the threat? What is the level of maturation of our technology? What are the costs? What are the implications for overall arms control?"
Clinton is slated to decide on deploying the system by the end of the year. If the United States proceeds, Cohen noted, "Australia plays an important role in early warning, and we would expect and hope that that would continue, certainly if there is an NMD program."
Next year, Australia and the United States will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ANZUS pact. "I am confident our countries will work together as well over the next 50 years as they have in the past," Cohen said.