Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

The new AUKUS pact may have paved the way for Iran to move to a nuclear weapon

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog, has a safeguards agreement that excludes naval reactors from probes. Simply put, an IAEA inspector can’t be expected to live on a nuke-powered sub for weeks to conduct oversight. As a result, non-nuclear weapons states can declare highly enriched uranium (HEU) for naval propulsion purposes and keep the IAEA from sniffing around that material

For Australia to have nuke-powered subs, it’s likely going to obtain the same HEU used in American and British vessels..

Could AUKUS give Iran a nuclear excuse?  https://www.politico.com/newsletters/national-security-daily/2021/09/16/could-aukus-give-iran-a-nuclear-excuse-494362, BALEXANDER WARD and QUINT FORGEY  09/16/2021 ”……………. During a private call with experts, administration officials failed to satisfactorily answer nuclear-related questions about the trilateral pact..

DARYL KIMBALL, director of the Arms Control Association, had serious questions about what providing Canberra with nuclear-propulsion technology for submarines meant for America’s long-standing nonproliferation policy.

“The fact that Australia is a friendly nation with kangaroos and Vegemite and has a good nonproliferation record is relevant but doesn’t make bending nonproliferation rules a wise thing,” he told us.

Kimball said he and others asked: 1) if the new arrangement would require a change in a 2010 U.S.-Australia nuclear agreement; 2) how the technology transfer could be conducted safely; and 3) whether the administration had considered the deal’s impact on the regional arms race.

The answers to those and other questions were “unsatisfying and evasive,” Kimball complained. ANKIT PANDA, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, also called the administration’s responses “unsatisfying” but expected them to hammer out details over the 18-month consultation period.

JAMES ACTON, co-director of Carnegie’s nuclear policy program, wasn’t surprised to hear there weren’t good answers to the nonproliferation questions, “because there aren’t any.”

It’s a terrible precedent, and there’s no way around it,” he told NatSec Daily.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear watchdog, has a safeguards agreement that excludes naval reactors from probes. Simply put, an IAEA inspector can’t be expected to live on a nuke-powered sub for weeks to conduct oversight. As a result, non-nuclear weapons states can declare highly enriched uranium (HEU) for naval propulsion purposes and keep the IAEA from sniffing around that material.

For Australia to have nuke-powered subs, it’s likely going to obtain the same HEU used in American and British vessels.

Still, Acton said, “I find it very hard to believe that if Australia exercises its right to do this, then other countries who have nefarious motives won’t also do it,” though he noted no country has ever taken advantage of this loophole.

There are widespread worries Iran might be the first. It now has an excuse to restart its nuclear-propulsion program to have unmonitored weapons-grade HEU. In a sense, Acton said, AUKUS has unlocked the door for Iran to move closer to a nuclear weapon.

“We’d go apeshit over that,” he told NatSec Daily.

The Biden administration has consistently downplayed these and other nonproliferation concerns. A State Department official posted in Vienna, who was on the expert call, said they had already started discussions with the IAEA about the safeguard issue.

senior administration official, the same one that spoke with the experts, told reporters yesterday of the nuclear-powered subs: “This technology is extremely sensitive. This is, frankly, an exception to our policy in many respects. I do not anticipate that this will be undertaken in other circumstances going forward. We view this as a one-off.”

And another senior U.S. official wouldn’t answer whether Australia will obtain HEU, but did say “we are not going to prejudge the outcome of the 18-month consultation period” and that “Australia will not produce HEU domestically.”

“Any comparison between Australia — a longstanding supporter of the nonproliferation regime with sterling nonproliferation credentials — and Iran — a country with a lengthy history of noncompliance with nonproliferation-related obligations — is not credible,” the person added. “This is an exceptional case, not a precedent-setting case.”

September 18, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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