Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Austria
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Kosovo, Slovakia and Slovenia

Agenda Item 5: Nuclear Security

 

IAEA Board of Governors

Statement by Dr Kath Smith, Alternate Resident Representative to the IAEA

Agenda Item 5: Nuclear Security

10 September 2018

 

 

Thank you, Chair.

 

Australia welcomes the Director General’s Nuclear Security Report 2018. We express our appreciation to the Secretariat for the briefing provided to Member States on 27 August 2018, and thank Deputy Director General Lentijo for his helpful remarks. 

 

Chair,

Australia continues to support strongly the Agency’s efforts to assist Member States to improve nuclear security. Australia has contributed a total of over AUD 2.4 million to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund, including support for the IAEA’s activities in the Indo-Pacific region, as well as contributing experts to IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) missions. [1] 

For its part, Australia hosted a follow-up International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission in November 2017, which continued the good work begun by the IAEA International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) mission to Australia in November 2013.

Australia has been long-standing proponent of the minimisation of use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in civilian applications. Since we first started making the widely used medical radioisotope molybdenum-99 in the 1970s, we have always produced it using Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) targets. Australia’s current research reactor, OPAL, which was commissioned in 2006, was designed and built to run using LEU fuel. Australia’s new molybdenum-99 production facility will have the capacity to supply 25% of the world demand from LEU targets irradiated in an LEU-fuelled reactor.

Australia supports the Agency’s coordination with other international groups such as the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, as this allows synergies to be identified and prevents duplication. [2]  In this regard, Australia was proud to co-sponsor and participate actively in the GICNT nuclear forensics workshop, “Destiny Elephant” in Bangkok in March 2018.

 

Chair,

Allow me to highlight four points from the report before us.

Firstly, Australia welcomes the fact that this year’s Nuclear Security Report identifies promoting further adherence to the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) as one of the priorities for the coming three years. Australia is a strong supporter of the CPPNM and has actively supported IAEA workshops and conducted its own regional outreach to promote the ratification of the Amendment. [3] In this light, Australia looks forward to contributing constructively to the preparations for the Review Conference on the Amendment and requests the Secretariat to lead early efforts on this endeavour. 

Secondly, Australia is pleased that this year’s Nuclear Security Report shows once again that Member States are making active use of the Incident and Trafficking Data Base (ITDB). The detailed analysis, reporting and sharing of lessons learned through the ITDB is particularly important when when dealing with material out of regulatory control. Australia encourages all States to continue to actively share lessons learned via the ITDB. The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation has a research program seeking to improve capabilities to detect illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, and has engaged in exchanges with regional partners in that regard. [4] 

Thirdly, Australia was encouraged by the DDG’s comments at the informal technical briefing on the Nuclear Security Report about the Agency’s efforts to improve coordination and collaboration between its different departments. Nevertheless, we note that the Nuclear Security Report, despite its increased length, does not touch upon this topic, and would welcome more attention be accorded to this important “coordination” issue.

Finally, Australia commends the Secretariat’s early commencement of work on the next International Conference on Nuclear Security, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2020. We stand ready to actively participate.

 

Chair,

With these comments, the Australian delegation takes note of the Nuclear Security Report 2018 and recommends its transmittal to the General Conference.

 

Thank you, Chair.

 

[1] NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/8
[2] Last year’s statement
[3] http://www.nss2016.org/document-center-docs/2016/3/31/national-progress-report-australia-1
[4] NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/8