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IAEA Director General Statement in Relation to AUKUS Announcement

Vienna, Austria
  1. On 15 September 2021, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States informed the Director General about their decision to initiate a trilateral effort of 18 months to “identify the optimal pathway to support Australia’s acquisition of a conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarine for the Royal Australian Navy” in the context of the AUKUS partnership.
  2. The following day, the Director General informed the Board of Governors that the Agency, in line with its statutory non-proliferation mandate, would engage with the three parties involved and consider any implications in the context of the application of Agency safeguards.
  3. In line with its treaty obligations, in March 2023, Australia formally requested the Agency to commence negotiations on an arrangement required under Article 14 of Australia’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement to ensure that the nuclear material which will be involved in Australia’s nuclear naval propulsion programme is not diverted to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
  4. The consultation process with Australia on the structure and content of an Article 14 arrangement is ongoing. As part of this process, the Agency is discussing with Australia technical aspects and ways to facilitate possible verification and monitoring activities by the Agency, as well as voluntary transparency measures.
  5. On 22 March 2024, Australia announced the next stage of the AUKUS partnership, including the statement that “work has already begun to develop the skills to maintain our nuclear-powered submarines with increased visits of US and UK SSNs ahead of the arrival of Australia’s own sovereign Virginia class submarines”. The Agency will ensure that technical measures are in place to address the possible implications of the developments announced on the application of Agency safeguards.
  6. The Director General welcomes the fact that, in keeping with its stated commitment to keep the Agency informed of developments in this area, Australia informed the Agency of the developments announced yesterday in advance.
  7. The Director General will continue to keep the Board of Governors informed of developments, as appropriate.

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