IAEA Board of Governors
Agenda Item 12: Any Other Business
10 March 2023
Statement on behalf of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States by H.E Ambassador Richard Sadleir, Governor and Resident Representative of Australia to the IAEA
Thank you, Chair.
I have the honour of speaking on behalf of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to update on progress under the AUKUS partnership.
We are approaching the end of our 18-month consultation period to identify the optimal pathway for Australia’s acquisition of a conventionally armed, nuclear-powered submarine capability. AUKUS partners remain on track for an announcement around the end of the consultation period. We remain fully committed to ensuring our approach sets the highest non-proliferation standard.
Since the November Board meeting, we have continued to consider a wide range of technical, legal, and practical safeguards and verification issues to deliver on this commitment. We have had further technical consultations with Deputy Director General Aparo and his team, and we have also engaged with the Director General at ministerial level.
All Member States have the right to have such discussions with the IAEA, and it is vital that the Agency remains the impartial and independent technical authority on the implementation of safeguards agreements.
We have reiterated that the AUKUS endeavour will be fully in line with the three partners’ respective international non-proliferation obligations and commitments. We have also confirmed that Australia’s naval nuclear propulsion activities will occur within the framework of Australia’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol.
We have previously confirmed to the Board that, as part of our safeguards approach, the UK and US intend to provide Australia with nuclear material in complete, welded nuclear power units that will not require refuelling during their lifetime. Removing nuclear material from these units would render the power unit, and the submarine, inoperable. Australia will not conduct uranium enrichment, reprocessing, or fuel fabrication as part of this program.
Following conclusion of the consultation period, the AUKUS partners will announce what we determine to be the optimal pathway. This announcement will include information on the submarines that Australia intends to acquire, their delivery timeframes, and the principles underpinning the development with the IAEA of a detailed non-proliferation approach.
We will continue to engage the IAEA in the development of a robust safeguards and verification approach that will enable the Agency to meet its technical objectives. We look forward to future reports by the Director General on naval nuclear propulsion under AUKUS, when the Director General deems it appropriate.
We heard yesterday a series of mischaracterisations regarding the AUKUS partners’ transparency and engagement with the Director General. On many occasions now, the Director General has confirmed his satisfaction with our engagement with the Agency, and confirmed that the AUKUS partners continue to fulfil our non-proliferation obligations.
We will continue to keep the Board informed of our progress, just as we have done since the AUKUS endeavour was first announced.
Thank you, Chair.