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Statement by the Head of the Australian delegation to the 63rd Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

Australian National Statement

63rd Regular Session of the IAEA General Conference

 

Ambassador Brendon Hammer

Governor and Permanent Representative of Australia to the IAEA

 

18 September 2019

 


Madam President

As a founding member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Australia strongly supports the Agency’s essential role in facilitating collaboration to harness the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and technology  while safeguarding against nuclear weapons proliferation.

 

Madam President

In the area of safeguards, the Agency’s ability to undertake verification and monitoring activities in Iran are fundamental to Australia’s support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.  This is a peacefully negotiated agreement Australia believes serves the best interests of the international community.

In this connection we note that the Agency continues to seek full and timely cooperation from Iran in relation to implementation of Iran’s Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol but that recently there have been some worrying setbacks in this area.

Australia also notes – with deep concern – Iran’s actions through 2019 to wind back its compliance with the JCPOA.

We urge Iran to reverse these actions, to urgently return to full compliance with the Plan and to refrain from any further actions that might jeopardise the JCPOA, or escalate international tensions.

 

Madam President

Australia joins others in seeking permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula, including through the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the DPRK.  The DPRK’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons is a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions and presents an unacceptable challenge to the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.  We condemn it.

We also condemn the DPRK’s recent repeated missile launches.  These have done nothing for peace and stability, they increase the risk of miscalculation, and they are also in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Australia urges the DPRK in the strongest terms: to return to full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to permit an early return to IAEA safeguards inspections, to comply fully with all UN Security Council resolutions regarding its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, and to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Australia will maintain strong sanctions against the DPRK until it takes clear and verifiable steps to denuclearise.  We call on other countries to do so too.

 

Madam President

Australia welcomes the IAEA’s work to further strengthen and integrate efficiencies into the global safeguards system.  We congratulate the IAEA on holding a successful Symposium on International Safeguards in November 2018.   And we thank the Agency for its ongoing strong participation in – and support for – the Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network.

Australia also strongly supports the IAEA’s Technical Cooperation Program.  We congratulate the Agency for successfully hosting the first IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Science and Technology last year.

As a world-leading supplier of reactor-produced nuclear medicines, Australia has an acute understanding of the importance of nuclear science and technology in improving human health and well-being.  For example, once Australia’s new nuclear medicine processing facility enters full operation we will reliably be able to meet up to 25 percent global demand for molybdenum-99.

 

Madam President

Australia is proud of its excellent nuclear safety and security record.  We were the first supplier to produce molybdenum-99 exclusively from low enriched uranium.  Now – together with other major producers – we have eliminated HEU from around 75 percent of the world’s molybdenum-99 supply chain, proving this approach is technically and commercially feasible.

Accordingly, we urge all Member States in the process of converting their HEU-based methods to stay the course and eliminate an unnecessary nuclear proliferation and security risk.

 

Madam President

Australia is pleased to announce that construction of the world’s first industrial-scale Synroc waste treatment plant has begun.  This Australian-developed waste management technology is designed to immobilise radioactive waste, minimise volume and provide an extremely durable and safe solution for final storage.  We are very happy to talk to interested parties about the unique benefits and wide applications of this technology.

 

Madam President

Australia is committed to best practice in nuclear safety.  In this connection we hosted our second full-scope Integrated Regulatory Review Service mission in November 2018.   This was the largest multi-jurisdictional IRRS mission ever undertaken. 

We appreciate the services the Agency provides for States to enhance their nuclear safety and security regimes, and we commend these services to all Member States.

 

Madam President

Australia looks forward to the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, noting that the approaching 50th anniversary of the NPT gives us pause to reflect on the enduring significance of the Treaty to global peace and security.

We wish to restate our view here that we believe all NPT Parties have an obligation – and core national security imperative – to work cooperatively to ensure a positive, forward-looking outcome from the Review Conference.

 

Madam President

I would like to emphasise Australia’s strong support and commendation of the Agency’s efforts to increase representation of women in the IAEA – and to increase the role of women in the wider nuclear sector.

As Co-Chair of the Group of Friends for Women in Nuclear, Australia very much welcomed the late Director General Amano’s focus on achieving gender equality at the IAEA.  Mr Amano’s proactive and pathfinding approach on gender will form an important part of his wider legacy.

And in closing Madam President, I would indeed like to acknowledge the late Director General’s wider legacy of tirelessly championing the peaceful uses of nuclear technology, in particular for development and for many years guiding the Agency through a difficult and sensitive international security environment.

Australia will remember Yukiya Amano for these things, and for the many other areas where he excelled.

Thank you.