IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
Statement by H. E. Mr Richard Sadleir, Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA
Agenda Item 8: Any Other Business
13-17 September 2021
Thank you Chair.
Since the matter has been raised, I note that the Governments of Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom have announced an 18-month process of consultation to determine a pathway for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
The Government of Australia has concluded, after careful consideration, that this capability is necessary to respond to developments in our strategic environment.
We wish to make clear that Australia does not, and will not, seek nuclear weapons. Australia remains committed to its status as a non-nuclear weapon state in full and unconditional compliance with our obligation under the Non Proliferation Treaty not to acquire nuclear weapons.
The trilateral cooperation between Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom will be fully consistent with the three parties’ respective non-proliferation obligations. We will engage fully with the IAEA as we undertake this trilateral effort over the next 18 months.
A core objective of the trilateral consultation process will be to identity parameters that reinforce Australia’s exemplary non-proliferation credentials and our longstanding commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In this respect, the trilateral cooperation process will give close attention to ensuring this capability is pursued in a manner that preserves the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
With access to advances in naval nuclear propulsion design and technology, and the close support of the US and the UK, this pathway has become feasible for Australia while meeting all of our non-proliferation obligations. This is particularly because reactor refuelling will not be required for the operational life of the vessel, and there will be no need for Australia to develop a large domestic proliferation-sensitive nuclear infrastructure.
Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom are fully committed to setting a high standard for international assurance and fulfilling our collective obligations to the IAEA.
This trilateral cooperation is possible because of the close existing cooperation between the three states and Australia’s unequivocal commitment to nuclear non-proliferation.
Thank you Chair.