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Australia's accession to the Asian Regional Co-operative Agreement



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N E W S R E L E A S E

NQ D A T E

22 September 1977

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT ON AUSTRALIA'S ACCESSION TO THE ASIAN REGIONAL CO-OPERATIVE AGREEMENT (RCA)

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Andrew Peacock, announced today that the Government has decided that Australia will accede tb the Asian Regional Co-operative Agreement (RCA) of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Mr Peacock said that this decision would give effect to several major policy concerns of the Government. It is a renewed demonstration of Australia's commitment to assist the economic and social development of developing countries, especially in our own neighbourhood. Beyond this, it demonstrates the Government's commitment to its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. One of the

essential bases of that Treaty is an undertaking amongst parties to co-operate in the development and application of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The benefits which this confers on parties to the Treaty are a direct

consequence of their acceptance of non-proliferation safeguards.

The Asian RCA was established in 1972 under the auspices of the IAEA. It provides a framework for co-operative research, development and training in-.nuclear science and technology through national scientific institutions. The present members of the Agreement are 11 developing countries in Asia, including all of the members of the Association

of South East Asian Nations. Australia hopes that its accession to the RCA will encourage otherrdeveloped countries in the region to become members and developed countries elsewhere to lend their financial support.

To date the RCA has undertaken six small projects, mainly in the use of radio-isotopes in such fields as fisheries, agriculture, environmental pollution control and industry. Several more projects are being planned,^ notably in medicine and animal husbandry.

A distinguishing feature of the RCA is the flexibility of its administrative arrangements. Under these arrangements, Australia will be entirely free to choose the projects ' which it wishes to help and the recipient countries. Australia

can and will provide its assistance on a bilateral basis in support of particular projects in particular countries·

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Mr Peacock said that, in participating in RCA projects, the Government would apply its general policy on technical assistance in the nuclear area. This derives from the Government's nuclear safeguards policy which was

announced by the Prime Minister on 24 May. The nuclear technical assistance policy gives preference to countries which are party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in areas of research and development which have no proliferation

implications such as the application of radio-isotopes in agriculture or medicine.

Furthermore, Mr Peacock noted that the policy precludes nuclear co-operation with ηόη-NPT parties in fields which are directly related to the nuclear fuel cycle. Australian membership of the RCA will not therefore lead to the transfer

of sensitive nuclear technology to any non-NPT country.

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