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IAEA Director General Statement in Relation to AUKUS Announcement

Vienna, Austria
  1. On 8 April 2024, the AUKUS Defence Ministers issued a joint statement on the progress made and plans under the AUKUS partnership on the acquisition of conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines and their work on other advanced capabilities. The Agency took note of the information provided to it by the AUKUS parties ahead of this announcement consistent with their stated commitment to keep the Agency informed of developments in this area.
  2. The Agency took particular note of the information related to maintenance activities to be conducted on US nuclear-powered submarines (SSNs) in Australia starting in the second half of 2024. The Agency is ensuring that any necessary technical measures will be in place to address the possible implication on the application of Agency safeguards in Australia during maintenance activities in the context of Australia’s safeguards obligations.
  3. The Agency also took note of the elements of this announcement related to future exports and trade between the AUKUS parties relevant only to their work on other advanced capabilities and possible participation of other States. The Agency will monitor related trade in accordance with its safeguards responsibilities.   
  4. As previously reported, 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.
  5. On 16 September 2021, 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The Agency will continue to remind all States concerned of their respective safeguards obligations and work with them in this regard.  
  9. The Director General will continue to keep the Board of Governors informed of developments, as appropriate.

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