Sydney, Dec. 1 (Reuters): Australia said today it was ready to take pre-emptive action against terrorism, adding that international law was no longer adequate to confront threats to its national security.
National leaders had no alternative but to use available means to stop an attack against their countries, whether that was from another state or from terrorism, Australian Prime Minister John Howard told a television station.
He did not say what type of action might need to be taken pre-emptively, and made no mention of military action.
Australia’s sense of security owing to its geographical isolation in the Southern Hemisphere was shattered on October 12 when powerful bomb blasts blamed on suspected Islamic extremists tore through beach bars on neighbouring Indonesia’s resort island of Bali.
Up to 90 of the 185 people killed were Australians and the attack has been dubbed Australia’s September 11.
Speaking on the Nine Network, Howard said the most likely threat to any nation’s security was non-state terrorism, and international law could no longer cope with the changed circumstances confronting the world.
Asked whether he would be prepared to act if he knew terrorists in a neighbouring country were planning to attack Australia, Howard said: “Oh yes, I think any Australian Prime Minister would.”
“It stands to reason that if you believe that somebody was going to launch an attack on your country and you had a capacity to stop it and there was no alternative other than to use that capacity, then of course you would have to use it,” he said.