Unconventional Partners: Australia-India Cooperation in Reducing Nuclear Dangers

What is the problem?
Progress towards reducing nuclear dangers is currently hampered by entrenched divisions between Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty members and non-members, and between Western and non-aligned states. Longstanding differences between Australia and India typify this problem.

What should be done?
New partnerships and platforms for dialogue would expand the space for agreement and new thinking. An unconventional diplomatic partnership between India and Australia could be a test bed for the larger challenge of how to bridge old divides on nuclear and security issues.

Early steps in such a partnership would include a leaders' statement identifying common aims in reducing nuclear dangers. Nonproliferation export controls could be a primary area of cooperation. Canberra should promote Indian involvement in the so-called Australia Group on chemical and biological weapons export controls, including to raise comfort levels between New Delhi and other nonproliferation arrangements.

A new bilateral nuclear dialogue could consider the prevention of illicit nuclear transfers at sea, the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, the security of nuclear energy growth in Southeast Asia, the reduced role of nuclear arms in defence postures, and recommendations from the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament sponsored by Australia and Japan.