Chapter 3 Agreement between the
Government of Australia and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for
Co-Operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
On 23 August 2011, the Agreement between the Government of Australia
and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for Co-Operation in the
Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament.
The proposed Agreement replaces a number of existing agreements.
n Agreement between
the Government of Australia and the European Atomic Energy Community concerning
Transfers of Nuclear Material from Australia to the European Atomic Energy
Community done on 21 September 1981, (hereinafter referred to as “the 1982
Agreement”), which is due to expire on 15 January 2012;
n Exchange of Notes
constituting an Implementing Arrangement, concerning International Obligation
Exchanges, to the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the
European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) concerning Transfers of Nuclear
Material done on 8 September 1993;
n Exchange of Notes
constituting an Implementing Arrangement, concerning Plutonium Transfers, to
the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the European Atomic
Energy Community (Euratom) concerning Transfers of Nuclear Material done on
8 September 1993; and
n Exchange of Notes
constituting an Implementing Arrangement between the Government of Australia
and Euratom concerning Plutonium Transfers under the Agreement between the
Government of Australia and Euratom concerning Transfers of Nuclear Material
from Australia to Euratom, and accompanying Side Letter No. 2, of 21 September
1981, and the Implementing Arrangement concerning Plutonium Transfers of 8
Further, the provisions of any bilateral agreements between Australia
and Member States of Euratom would be regarded as complementary to the proposed
Agreement and would, where appropriate, be superseded.
Background and Overview
Euratom is an international organisation which establishes and administers
safeguards designed to ensure that special nuclear materials and other related
nuclear facilities, equipment and material are not diverted from peaceful purposes
to non-peaceful purposes. Euratom is legally distinct from the European Union
(EU) but has the same membership.
Euratom has a central place in Australia’s network of nuclear
co-operation agreements. All of the member states of the EU accept the
jurisdiction of Euratom over their peaceful nuclear activities. All of the
non-nuclear-weapon member states of the EU are signatories to a comprehensive
safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its
associated Additional Protocol.
Australia’s interest in the Agreement
Nuclear co-operation agreements such as the proposed Agreement serve
Australia’s national interests by enhancing our commercial position as a
supplier of uranium and by setting high international standards for its use
through the application of strict conditions. All of Australia’s bilateral
nuclear agreements, including this proposed Agreement, provide stringent
safeguards and security arrangements designed to ensure Australian uranium is
used exclusively for peaceful purposes. By virtue of our extensive network of
such agreements, Australia’s strict conditions apply to a significant
proportion of uranium in peaceful use worldwide, hence contributing to raising
overall standards. 
The proposed Agreement would govern co-operation in peaceful uses of
nuclear energy between the Parties, including reciprocal obligations on transfers
and the use and application of non-proliferation safeguards on nuclear
material, dual use materials, equipment and technology supplied by the
Parties. The proposed Agreement is also consistent with Australia’s other
bilateral agreements and is Australia’s first such agreement to include
specific provisions on nuclear safety. 
The proposed Agreement’s purpose is to provide a framework for
co-operation between the Parties in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy on the
basis of mutual benefit and reciprocity and without prejudice to the respective
competences of each Party.
In addition to maintaining strict safeguards and security arrangements
concerning nuclear material and equipment already transferred under the 1982
Agreement, the Government considers that continued co-operation with Euratom
under the proposed Agreement will provide clear economic benefits to Australia. 
The proposed Agreement will also strengthen the international legal
framework supporting ongoing technical co-operation with Euratom by the Australian
Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation. 
More broadly, the proposed Agreement adds to the strong joint commitment
of Australia and the EU to nuclear non-proliferation and to nuclear security,
as well as to renewed efforts on nuclear safety. The proposed Agreement refers
explicitly to the IAEA Additional Protocol as part of the proposed Agreement’s
safeguards framework. This underscores the diplomatic efforts of both
Australia and the EU to promote the IAEA Additional Protocol as part of the
internationally recognised safeguards standard.
The proposed Agreement includes all the essential elements of
Australia’s policy for the control of nuclear materials. The Australian
Government regards these elements as integral elements of its broader policy
against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The maintenance of multilateral,
regional and bilateral arrangements that operate to counter nuclear
proliferation is a matter of high priority for Australia.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade highlighted the importance
of the new agreement. Although superseding existing arrangements, it is more
specific in terms of safety and the requirement for notification.
...it is the first of our agreements where we are proposing
to put more specific language around nuclear safety into the agreement and the
way that we read that with Euratom is by reference to a number of
conventions—and there are four of these different conventions that relate to
nuclear safety and nuclear incidents and the notification thereof—and the
parties agree to the application of those key international conventions in
their practices both in Australia and in the EU. We see this as a prudent and
very appropriate step in light of the Fukushima incident earlier this year.
Article III would confirm that nuclear material, non-nuclear
material, equipment and technology subject to the proposed Agreement, together
with all such items produced as a by-product, would be used for peaceful
purposes and would not be used for any military purpose. 
n Article III also
outlines the areas and forms of co-operation including the supply of nuclear
material, non-nuclear material and equipment; technology transfer; nuclear
safety and radiation protection; safeguards; nuclear research and development
activities; organisation and establishment of joint ventures and bilateral working
groups; and trade and commercial co-operation relating to the nuclear fuel
Article IV would oblige the Parties to apply to all items (i.e.
nuclear material, non-nuclear material or equipment) transferred between the
Parties, regardless of whether it is transferred directly or through a third
Article V would require the written consent of both Parties
before enriching uranium to 20 per cent or greater in the isotope uranium-235
(U-235). This would include the
conditions under which the uranium enriched to 20 per cent or more may be
used. This provision is included in all of Australia’s safeguards agreements
to provide additional controls on this proliferation-sensitive activity.
Article VI would oblige any transfer of nuclear material,
non-nuclear material or equipment to be carried out in accordance with the
relevant international commitments of Euratom, the Member States and Australia. 
Article VI would also:
n require the Parties
to assist each other in procurement of nuclear material, non-nuclear material
or equipment undertake transfers under fair commercial conditions and not
impede implementation of the principle of free movement in the EU’s internal
n oblige the Parties to
only permit retransfers of material in accordance with the framework of the
Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Guidelines for Nuclear Transfers prepared by
Article VII would oblige the Parties to place all nuclear
material under their respective safeguards agreements with the IAEA. In the
event that IAEA safeguards cease to apply in either Party’s jurisdiction they
would be required to arrange immediately for the application of alternative
(‘fallback’) safeguards which conform to IAEA principles and procedures to
provide reassurance equivalent to that of the IAEA safeguards system.
Article VII would also oblige the Parties:
n to apply physical
protection measures in accordance with international guidelines. Furthermore,
nuclear safety and waste management will be subject to relevant international
n not to transfer
nuclear material beyond their territorial jurisdiction unless they have
received prior written consent from the other Party or the recipient is
included in a pre-approved list of third countries. 
Article VIII would confirm the Parties’ consent to the
reprocessing of nuclear fuel containing nuclear material subject to the
proposed Agreement, provided such reprocessing takes place in accordance with
conditions mutually determined between the Parties. 
Article X would
require the Parties to encourage and facilitate information exchange and to take
all appropriate precautions to preserve the confidentiality of information
received as a result of the proposed Agreement.
Article XII would
require the Parties to establish administrative arrangements to ensure the
effective implementation of the provisions of the proposed Agreement.
The legislative framework already in place in relation to nuclear
transfers will be sufficient to provide for the terms of the proposed
Agreement. However, it will be necessary to promulgate regulations pursuant to
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 to add the proposed
Agreement to the list of ‘prescribed agreements’ under that Act and to take
similar action under the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety
Act 1998. No changes to the existing roles of the Commonwealth or the
States and Territories will arise as a consequence of implementing the proposed
The Department of Foreign Affairs also stated that as this treaty is
superseding existing agreements, other counties also have little or no
requirement to alter their existing legislation.
Euratom have confirmed that the internal procedures provided for in the treaty
have been completed.
Again, given that this treaty supersedes existing agreements, the
practical impact on Australia is minimal. There is no increase in nuclear
waste returning to Australia. In addition, the treaty does
not change the ultimate destination of unwanted nuclear material
and it also maintains Australia’s current practice and policy.
The costs associated with the proposed Agreement would be limited to
travel to Europe by Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO)
officers to facilitate proper operation of the nuclear material accounting
system. ASNO expects to be able to manage these costs within its departmental
allocation by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The Committee received a submission for the Australian Conservation
Foundation (ACF), and the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation on the treaty.
The ACF outlined a number of concerns, particularly with regard to the
fact that the treaty text was concluded before the March 2011 Fukushima
incident. The ACF commented:
The continuing Fukushima nuclear emergency has led to a
significant global reappraisal and review of the role and safety of nuclear
energy – the lessons of which are not adequately reflected in the ‘business as
usual’ approach that underpins much of this treaty and the accompanying
National Interest Analysis.
Following the Fukushima nuclear crisis the UN Secretary
General initiated a comprehensive review of international nuclear safety,
security and safeguards. It is deeply disappointing that a detailed assessment
and operational impact analysis of this process has not been provided with the
accompanying ATNIA or to assist in the Committee’s deliberations as much of
this review has a relevance to the Australian uranium sector.
Furthermore, the ACF also expressed the view that any distinction
between the civil and military use of uranium was largely psychological and
that once Australian uranium is exported, the receiving country can use that
uranium as it see fit despite international commitments.
Successive Australian governments have attempted to maintain
a distinction between civil and military end uses of Australian uranium
exports, however this distinction is more psychological than real. No amount
of safeguards can absolutely guarantee Australian uranium is used solely for
peaceful purposes. According the former US
Vice-President Al Gore, ‘in the eight years I served in the White House, every
weapons proliferation issue we faced was linked with a civilian reactor
program.’ Despite Government assurances that bilateral safeguard agreements
ensure peaceful uses of Australian uranium in nuclear power reactors, the fact
remains that by exporting uranium for use in nuclear power programs to nuclear
weapons states, other uranium supplies are free to be used for nuclear weapons
The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation is an organisation established,
managed and controlled by the Mirarr people to protect and advance their rights
Like the ACF, the Corporation made a submission to the inquiry
expressing concern about the Fukushima incident. The Corporation is
specifically concerned that the nuclear material involved in the Fukushima
incident may have come from the Ranger and Jabiluka uranium mines, located on
the traditional lands of the Mirarr people.
The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation also discussed the impact uranium
mining was having on indigenous lands. The corporation was concerned that
uranium mined at these mines was being used in power station that were unsafe,
and could be diverted into nuclear weapons.
Today, Mirarr country encompasses the Ranger and Jabiluka
Mineral Leases, the mining town of Jabiru and parts of Kakadu National Park.
Uranium mining has been taking place on Mirarr land for three decades.... the
European Union buys just under one third of Australia's uranium. Over the past
three decades ‐
the lifetime of the current treaty ‐
roughly half of the uranium exported from Australia has come from Mirarr land:
from the Ranger uranium mine.
Mirarr have long held concerns... regarding the impacts of
uranium once it is exported for use in nuclear power stations.
The Mirarr people have in the past opposed uranium mining on their lands
and the submission explained that they felt responsibility for the consequences
of the use of uranium from their lands.
Mirarr acknowledge widely held concerns regarding the lack of
enforceable safeguards to ensure uranium intended for nuclear power is not
diverted to nuclear weapons. As Traditional Owners, Mirarr bear responsibility
for the impacts of any product of their country.
Before extending the Treaty framework, Australia should seek
a commitment from all Euratom members to conduct renewed safety studies on all
existing reactors and undertaking to decommission those that have exceeded
their safely functional lifespan.
The responsibility Traditional Owners have for the impacts of
material from their country demands such safeguards.
The Committee notes the concerns of both the ACF and the Gundjeihmi
Aboriginal Corporation. The full consequences of the Fukushima incident are
yet to be ascertained and should further treaty amendments be required as a
result of this incident, the Committee expects they will be introduced in due
While noting their concerns, the Committee is confident that the
existing safeguards regarding nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons proliferation
incorporated into the treaty are appropriate and adequate. Nonetheless, this
should not preclude further amendments should they be considered necessary.
The Committee notes that this agreement supersedes existing treaties and
hence there are no fundamental changes to existing outcomes and practices.
What changes there are, strengthen safety requirements which the Committee
supports. Furthermore, there are no changes required to Australian legislation
and there are no expected additional costs. Given this, the Committee agrees
that binding treaty action be taken.
||The Committee supports Agreement between the Government
of Australia and the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) for
Co-Operation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and recommends that
binding treaty action be taken.