The Federal Government has invoked the ANZUS Treaty for the first time in the 50-year history of the defence alliance with the United States.
Cabinet met today following the Prime Minister’s return from Washington and in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.
Following the Cabinet meeting, the Prime Minister, John Howard, issued the following statement:
“The Australian people have been shocked and outraged at the enormity of the terrorist attacks on the United States. These heinous crimes have caused catastrophic loss of life, injury and destruction. We anticipate that a significant number of Australian nationals are included among those who lost their lives.
I have already conveyed to the President of the United States the condolences of the Australian Government and people, and expressed our resolute support for the United States at this most difficult time.
The terrorist attacks on the United States were discussed today at a special Cabinet meeting that I convened on my return from the United States.
The Government has decided, in consultation with the United States, that Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty applies to the terrorist attacks on the United States. The decision is based on our belief that the attacks have been initiated and coordinated from outside the United States.
This action has been taken to underline the gravity of the situation and to demonstrate our steadfast commitment to work with the United States in combating international terrorism.
The Australian Government will be in close consultation with the United States Administration in the period ahead to consider what actions Australia might take in support of the US response to these attacks.”
Article IV of the ANZUS Treaty says:
Each Party recognizes that an armed attack in the Pacific Area on any of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional processes.
Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall be immediately reported to the Security Council of the United Nations. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.