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Australia To Host PSI Exercise In 2006

Australia To Host PSI Exercise In 2006

Australia will host a major Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) exercise early next year, Defence Minister Robert Hill, and Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison, announced today.

Exercise PACIFIC PROTECTOR 06 will be conducted around Darwin next April and is expected to attract representatives from a number of countries in the region and from around the world.

The exercise will be the region’s next PSI activity, following Singapore’s successful Exercise DEEP SABRE in August, which involved Australian Defence and Customs vessels.

Under PSI, participating countries cooperate to disrupt and deter illicit shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems and related materials to terrorists and countries of proliferation concern. Such cooperation is undertaken within existing international and domestic laws. To date, more than 60 countries have expressed their support for PSI.

In earlier exercises, PSI focussed on maritime interdiction. Exercise PACIFIC PROTECTOR 06 will reflect the evolution of PSI towards testing air interdiction scenarios. It will be the first PSI air interdiction exercise in the region and will also include extensive ground based activities. The exercise will involve a range of Commonwealth Departments and Agencies, and Northern Territory authorities.

"This exercise will demonstrate Australia’s continuing strong support for PSI and commitment to engaging more countries in our region on counter-proliferation," Senator Hill said.

"It is designed to send a clear message to terrorists and other proliferators that their activities can and will be stopped."

"Australia is proud to host the PSI exercise. It gives us the opportunity to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to halt the proliferation of WMD," Senator Ellison said.

"It gives Australian personnel the opportunity to test their skills in cooperation with their counterparts from like-minded countries across the region."

PACIFIC PROTECTOR 06 will be Australia’s second major PSI exercise, following PACIFIC PROTECTOR 03, held in the Coral Sea.

Australia has also hosted a PSI meeting in Brisbane in July 2003 and a meeting of PSI operational experts in Sydney in late 2004.

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