The Australian Government has an export policy for Australian nuclear materials that permits Australian nuclear materials to be used only for peaceful purposes, that ensures safe and secure storage of Australian nuclear materials, and imposes an accounting framework to ensure that Australian nuclear materials are always subject to Australian standards.
The United Kingdom (UK) will leave the European Union (EU) on 29 March 2019. Subject to final agreement between the UK and EU, a transition period during which the UK will be subject to EU laws may apply up to 31 December 2020.
According to the Australian Government, a new nuclear cooperation agreement with the UK is necessary to enable the uninterrupted transfer of Australian uranium to the UK and to maintain smooth commercial operations for Australian mining companies.
That agreement is the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (the proposed Agreement).
The proposed Agreement will ensure that Australian nuclear safety standards continue to apply to Australian nuclear materials in the UK post Brexit.
The UK and Australia have an extensive history of nuclear cooperation, and the UK has a reputation for supporting non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The UK also has an established and expanding civilian nuclear industry.
The Committee believes that the Australia-UK Nuclear Cooperation Agreement is in Australia’s interest and recommends that binding treaty action be taken.