Australian news, and some related international items

IAEA concerned that AUKUS coud weaken non-proliferation system

Nuclear inspection under AUKUS deal ‘very tricky’ – IAEA chief, Sky News, Jonathan Talbot, Deputy Editor, 430 Sep 21,

Nuclear inspections of Australia under the AUKUS deal will be “very tricky” and could lead to a weakened non-proliferation system, says the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency.

 The AUKUS deal which sees Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology will make nuclear inspections “very tricky”, according to the head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“It is a technically very tricky question and it will be the first time that a country that does not have nuclear weapons has a nuclear sub,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told BBC’s HARDtalk.

The IAEA keeps track of all nuclear material in countries – like Australia – that have ratified the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). 

One of its primary tasks is to ensure nuclear materials are not being siphoned off for use in a nuclear bomb. 

Mr Grossi confirmed NPT signatories can exclude nuclear material from IAEA inspection while that material is fueling a submarine – a rare exception to the agency’s supervision of nuclear materials.

“A country… is taking highly enriched uranium away from inspection for a period of time, which could result in a weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime,” he said.

“What this means is that we, with Australia, with the United States and with the United Kingdom, we have to enter into a very complex, technical negotiation to see to it that as a result of this there is no weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

One challenge posed by Australia’s purchase of nuclear-powered submarines concerns the fact these vessels are designed to be undetectable and therefore beyond the reach of IAEA inspectors…

“China has taken note of the statements of Director General Grossi” and is “vigilant about AUKUS and the plan for nuclear submarine cooperation,” spokesperson of  the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Hua Chunying, said during the ministry’s daily press conference.

The provision of nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state will exclude weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium from necessary supervision and pose huge nuclear proliferation risks.”

Ms Hua also said AUKUS displayed a “typical contempt of rules” by the “Anglo-Saxon clique” and will undercut the non-proliferation system and other efforts to create nuclear free zones.   “In brief, this is a malicious exploitation of loopholes in international rules for out-and-out proliferation activities.

“Supervisions on the Australian nuclear submarines will set a precedent, concerns the rights and obligations of all IAEA member states, especially signatories to the NPT, and will have far-reaching impact on the international non-proliferation system.”

China is not alone in its concerns about AUKUS.

Indonesia and Malaysia have come out strongly against Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. 

Singapore – Australia’s most reliable ally among ASEAN member states – has also expressed worry.

Writing in The Conversation, James Chin, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Tasmania, said this is because “many of them think there is no such thing as acquiring nuclear-powered submarines without the prospect of acquiring nuclear weapons in the future.”…….

September 30, 2021 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics international, safety, weapons and war

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