The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is already working with Australia to resolve "complex" nuclear safeguards issues to secure its proposal to buy nuclear-powered submarines under the trilateral AUKUS partnership, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today.
The INTERNATIONAL Atomic Energy Agency is working with Australia on safeguards for nuclear submarines
Speaking after meeting Foreign Minister Wong on the first day of her visit to Australia, Grossi said Australia was a non-nuclear weapon state with a strong non-proliferation commitment, but securing nuclear material for naval propulsion was complicated because IAEA inspectors could not examine such material for long when ships were at sea. Verification of the existence of secured material must be reconciled with the confidentiality of military operations.
"So it's quite complicated and the IAEA is working with Australia to put in place the necessary safeguards," Grossi said. The three partners -- the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia -- have given us 18 months to figure out how to implement this project, but now we have started this interaction, this joint work on the technical side and the legal side so that we can reconcile these two aspects."
In September 2021, Australian President Scott Morrison joined US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to announce the AUKUS Security Partnership. Under the partnership, Australia will get up to eight nuclear submarines, which Mr. Morrison said his government intended to build in Adelaide, South Australia.
Speaking ahead of Grossi's visit, Huang said Australia's commitment to the NUCLEAR Non-Proliferation Treaty was "unwavering" and that it was committed to "open and transparent" engagement with the IAEA on nuclear safeguards. "Mr. Grossi and I will also discuss the challenging international security environment," she said.
During his visit, Grossi will also visit the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organization to meet with Australian leaders in nuclear science and innovation.