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Australia signs agreement on nuclear safeguard

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11 July 1974


The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Don Willesee, today announced that Australia and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had entered into an agreement on nuclear safeguards to meet Australia's obligations as a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Senator Willesee said that at the same time Australia, the Agency and the United States had signed an associated Protocol for the suspension of safeguards applied under a 1966 agreement covering nuclear material supplied to Australia by

the United States.

The agreement and the Protocol were signed in Vienna last night; the Australian Ambassador to Austria and Australian Resident Representative at the Agency, Mr J.R. Rowland, signed on behalf of Australia.

■ The Minister recalled that under a bilateral agreement of 1956, the United States had provided Australia with nuclear materials for peaceful purposes. In 1966 Australia, the United States and the IAEA had entered into an agreement making the Agency responsible for the inspection and verification of the use (i . e ., the safeguarding) of such material.

On 23 January 1974, Australia ratified the NPT,. thereby undertaking not to develop nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices and to set up a national regime of nuclear material controls. More specifically, Australia undertook to conclude an agreement with the Agency oh a safeguards system within

eighteen months of commencing negotiations (which began on 11 January 1973)· Under the NPT Australia also accepted a commitment not to export fissionable material or related equipment to states not subject to safeguard arrangements negotiated with the IAEA.

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The agreement just signed with the Agency provides for a system of international inspection and verification to give effect to Australia's safeguards obligations. It will cover all nuclear materials, whether produced locally or

imported. As a consequence, it had become no longer necessary to apply a separate and overlapping inspection system for materials supplied by the United States. A Protocol had therefore been executed suspending safeguards under the

agreement of 1966.

The Minister said he was particularly pleased that it had been possible to conclude a safeguards agreement within the time specified in the NPT.

Senator Willesee noted that nuclear technology was developing worldwide. Australia's concern was that countries embarking upon nuclear development did so in such a way as not to increase the risk to all nations of further proliferation

of nuclear weapons.

"We therefore consider that all such development should take place under internationally agreed safeguards, as provided in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and associated arrangements", he added.