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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office

Annual Report 2000-2001

Output C International Safeguards

Contribution to the development and effective implementation of international safeguards and non-proliferation regimes, including participation in international expert groups and conferences, and provision to the IAEA of consultancies, assessments, support in R&D and training; and evaluation of the effectiveness of IAEA safeguards and related regimes.

Milestone C1

C1.1 A pro-active and useful contribution made to the development and effective implementation of IAEAsafeguards, with national and international safeguards methods evaluated in an expert and thorough manner.

C1.2 Assessment of developments in nuclear technology.

C1.3 Contribution to IAEA technical trainingcourses concerning nuclear material accountancy and control and other safeguard-related topics

Activities

Australia took an active part in the development of safeguards, through the following elements of work:

  • participation in SAGSI(the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation) and other international expert bodies (see below);
  • the Australian Safeguards Support Program (ASSP), comprising R&D and consultancy work in support of IAEA safeguards (see Milestone C3 on page 36);
  • field testing of new safeguards techniques and approaches in Australia on behalf of the IAEA;
  • participation in relevant DFAT policy development activities, and support for Australias Mission to the IAEA in Vienna and to Australian Missions in other capitals; and
  • promotion of safeguards and non-proliferation concepts through experts meetings, publications and conferences, and discussions with counterparts in other countries.

SAGSI

SAGSI is a group of international experts, appointed by the IAEA Director General, to advise him on the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of implementing IAEA safeguards, and other international safeguards matters. Mr Carlson has been a member of SAGSI since 1998.

SAGSI has provided much of the energy and vision for the current program to strengthen IAEA safeguards and continues to review developments. Some of SAGSIs work during 2000-01 is outlined below. A key topic for SAGSI is the development of integrated safeguards, that is, the optimal combination of classical safeguards and strengthened safeguardsmeasures. This is a matter of the highest priority (for an outline of strengthened and integrated safeguards see Current Topics). SAGSI is examining specific subjects related to integrated safeguards, including development of safeguards concepts and approaches, safeguards parameters, evaluation methodologies, and quality systems.

During the year one major subject on which Australia took the lead was a thorough review of the role of timeliness (e.g. frequency of inspections) in integrated safeguards. Other topics examined by SAGSI included:

  • safeguards implementation and performance issues, including reporting aspects, and information review and evaluation;
  • the role of containment and surveillance measures, and the categorisation of nuclear material for safeguards purposes;
  • further developments in safeguards, embracing wide area environmental sampling, safeguards approaches for spent fuel repositories, and the application of satellite imagery; and
  • possible new verification roles for the IAEA, including with respect to nuclear materials released from weapons programs and the proposed FMCT(Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty).

Evaluation of safeguards

In evaluating IAEAs safeguards performance, ASNO drew on a wide range of activities and sources, such as:

  • the IAEAs Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) and other detailed information made available to Australia as a member of the IAEA Board of Governors;
  • appreciation of practical issues derived from participation in SAGSI and the operation of Australias Safeguards Support Program in support of IAEA safeguards; and
  • exchanges of views and information with IAEA staff, ASNOs counterparts in other countries, and relevant Australian agencies.

ASNOs assessment of IAEA data for 2000 and related information is that the safeguards system has fulfilled its task of verifying the non-diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards (see IAEA Safeguards Statement for 2000, page 67). As in previous years, the IAEA experienced some problems with equipment and procedures, but none was sufficiently serious to prevent the Agency from reaching satisfactory conclusions from its safeguards activities.

Other work

At several international conferencesincluding the Annual Meeting of the INMM (Institute of Nuclear Materials Management) and the European Safeguards Research and Development Association (ESARDA) SymposiumASNO took the opportunity to present and promote Australian ideas on safeguards and non-proliferation developments. ASNO has a well-established reputation for presenting innovative, constructive and thought-provoking papers.

ASNO has also been developing outreach activities to assist countries in the region prepare for the introduction of strengthened safeguards, and in June 2001 contributed to an IAEA/Japan Regional Safeguards Symposium aimed at promoting the conclusion of further Additional Protocols.

Performance Assessment

Australias participation in international work is making a significant, effective and highly regarded contribution to strengthening the IAEA safeguards system.

ASNO was involved closely with the IAEA through participation in SAGSIand other expert meetings. Under the Australian Safeguards Support Program ASNO provided cost free consultancy services to the IAEA for the further development of international safeguards (see Milestone C3 on page 36). The IAEA has expressed appreciation for and satisfaction with these services. This work has contributed to more effective international safeguards with improved use of new technologies and methods.

ASNO has been an influential advocate for strengthened and integrated safeguardsthrough participation in international fora such as the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM) and the European Safeguards Research and Development Association (ESARDA).

Developments in Nuclear Technology

Activities

There are indications that concern about climate change, as well as uncertainty about long-term cost and security of supply for hydrocarbon fuels, could lead to increased interest in nuclear energy. At present the capital cost of nuclear power remains an issue, but there is growing interest in new reactor concepts, such as the South African pebble bed modular reactor, which appear to be significantly cheaper than light water reactortechnology. If the cost is favourable, nuclear power could be adopted by a wider range of countries, including in Australias region. If nuclear power does become more widespread, plutonium recycling is likely to increase, for spent fuel management as well as resource utilisation reasons (see pages 60-64 of ASNOs 1999-2000 Annual Report). Australia has a strong interest in ensuring that non-proliferation aspects are factored into developing technologies at an early stageASNO is working to this end.

Amongst other activities in this area during the year, ASNO participated in the IAEAs INPRO (International Project on Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycle) steering committee. ASNO is taking a particular interest in the pebble bed reactor, which may be the first of the current innovative designs to be commercialised, and will be assisting the IAEA in a safeguards analysis of this reactor type.

Performance Assessment

Although Australia is not directly involved in substantial nuclear technology developments, ASNO has maintained a sound understanding of important developments and issues and is making a constructive contribution to ensuring non-proliferation and safeguards aspects are fully taken into account.

IAEA safeguards trainingcourses

Activities

During the year substantial preparations were made for a safeguards training course aimed at assisting the DPRK to develop its national safeguards system. Mr Downer offered this course to the DPRK in discussions with his counterpart in November 2000. Subsequently the DPRK indicated it would nominate six safeguards officials for the course. The course was developed in consultation with the IAEA, and funding was provided by AusAID. Participation was broadened to include China, Indonesia, New Zealand and the ROK, as well as some Australians. The course (which was highly successful) was held outside the reporting period[1], and will be covered in ASNOs 2001-02 Annual Report.

In addition ASNO was invited to assist in a regional safeguards training course held in Japan by the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute in March 2001. Mr Doulgeris presented two lectures to this course.

Performance Assessment

Through involvement in regional training activities on nuclear safeguards, ASNO has made an effective contribution to the IAEAs training programs designed to: improve the technical performance of safeguards authorities in the region; promote a fuller understanding of the IAEA Additional Protocol; and enable a better appreciation of the work of the IAEA. An important additional benefit has been strengthened relationships with counterparts in the region.

Milestone C2

Highly effective liaison maintained with the IAEA and with counterparts in other countries

Activities

ASNO is pro-active in maintaining and strengthening contacts with the IAEA, other safeguards agencies and international safeguards practitioners. Relevant activities during the year include:

  • In June 2001, Mr Carlson and Dr Ridwan, Chairman of the Indonesian Nuclear Energy Control Board (BAPETEN), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their respective agencies (see Annex I.3). The MOU formalises longstanding cooperation in areas of non-proliferation; helps promote strengthened safeguardsarrangements regionally; and facilitates cooperative activities including exchanges of scientific staff, training and joint R&D projects for nuclear safeguards.
  • With his counterparts in Indonesia, Japan and the ROK and Japan, Mr Carlson is exploring ways of strengthening regional cooperation on safeguards matters. One concept under consideration is an informal association of safeguards agencies to facilitate cooperation and promote a safeguards culture.
  • At the specific request of Indonesia, Mr Bellinger participated in an IAEA review of physical protectionat nuclear facilities in Indonesia. On behalf of Member States, the IAEA coordinates the International Physical Protection Advisory Service (IPPAS) which provides advice and assistance for strengthening and enhancing security arrangements at nuclear facilities. The IPPAS mission visited the three nuclear sites in Indonesia. This visit further strengthened ASNOs links with its Indonesian counterpart, BAPETEN.
  • Senior US experts visited Australia in March 2001 for detailed discussions on strengthened and integrated safeguards issues.
  • Participation in international conferences, IAEA meetings and the Regional Safeguards Symposium.
  • Extensive discussions with senior IAEA officials (including the Director General, Dr ElBaradei and the Deputy Director General for Safeguards, Dr Goldschmidt) and with counterparts in Euratomand ABACC(Argentine-Brazilian Safeguards Agency), as well as with senior officials of several governments and industry representatives, from Canada, Finland, France, Indonesia, Japan, ROK, Sweden, the UK, and the US.
Performance Assessment

ASNO has achieved highly effective links with the IAEA and a wide range of safeguards organisations and regional counterparts. Through such links ASNO is abreast of developments and emerging problems in safeguards. ASNO has been effective in promoting Australian thinking on a range of safeguards and associated issues, contributing to resolving issues of safeguards concern, and ensuring that its work program is relevant to the international non-proliferation agenda.

ASNO has been able to give the Government sound advice on nuclear safeguards, both internationally and from a domestic perspective.

Milestone C3

Efficient performance and management of a technical R&D program, supporting the development and enhancement of IAEA safeguards

Activities

The resources available to the IAEA are not sufficient to allow all necessary safeguards R&D programs to be conducted in-house. Safeguards are an evolving discipline and ASSPthe Australian Safeguards Support Programis intended to assist the IAEA develop the equipment and procedures needed to meet new challenges in a cost-effective way.

ASSP, coordinated by Dr Bragin, incorporates consultancy work, analysis, and the development of equipment and procedures. The program embraces safeguards projects formally agreed directly with the IAEA. It also covers collaborative work with ASNOs counterparts and expert groups.

This program is not only an important tangible expression of Australias support for IAEA safeguards, but plays a major role in maintaining ASNOs technical expertise and appreciation of the practical issues confronting the safeguards system. Fifteen formal Member State Support Programs are currently in operation, with an aggregate annual budget of over US$20 million. In dollar terms, ASSP is very modestthis year about $152,000. This includes $72,000 for direct expenditure relating to consultancy services and participation in SAGSI, but excludes monies spent by other Commonwealth agencies on ASSP projects, and also excludes indirect costs such as time spent by ASNO officers.

ASNO has a long-standing safeguards R&D agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE). This year further work was carried out with US colleagues on the development of a remote monitoring system for safeguards purposes at ANSTO's Lucas Heights facilities, but this work has been suspended while the IAEA further considers the contribution remote monitoring might make to the integrated safeguardsapproach at Lucas Heights. ASNO and DOE are examining what other collaborative projects might be carried out under this agreement. Also this year ASNO has explored options for collaborative projects with the Institute for Transuranium Elements in Germany, and ideas are being examined for collaboration with Indonesia under the ASNO-BAPETEN MOU.

One major project in ASSPanalysis of environmental samplesis carried out by ANSTO. ASNO is continuing to discuss with ANSTO other safeguards R&D work which strengthen ANSTOs non-proliferation program.

Details of ASSP projects are summarised at Annex G.

Performance Assessment

The results of several projects progressed and completed under the Australian Safeguards Assistance Program have been incorporated in the practices of the IAEA in 2000-01. The IAEA has expressed appreciation for the valuable and vital contribution provided to the Agencys safeguards efforts under the Australian Safeguards Support Program.

Milestone C4

Completion of work undertaken by the Informal Open-Ended Experts Meeting convened to discuss whether there is a need to revise the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).

Activities

Between them, Messrs Bellinger and Leask attended three Experts Meetings in Vienna. In conjunction with delegations from like-minded states, they were effective advocates for the case that revision of the CPPNMsuch that its provisions apply to domestic use, storage and transportis a critical element in strengthening the physical protection of nuclear materials worldwide. Although the Experts Meeting was unable to achieve consensus on the specific issue of revision, at its plenary meeting in May 2001 it did agree by consensus to recommend to the Director General of the IAEAthat he initiate the next step toward revision, namely to convene a technical and legal experts group to draft a well-defined amendment to the CPPNM. A likely scope for this well-defined amendment was drafted by the Experts Meeting.

The Experts Meeting also agreed to Physical Protection Objectives and Fundamental Principles, along the lines of the Nuclear Safety Convention (see Annex L).

Performance Assessment

A good outcome was achieved from the Experts Meeting: consensus was reached for convening a technical and legal experts group to draft a well-defined amendment to the CPPNM; the scope of such an amendment was drafted; and a document on Physical Protection Objectives and Fundamental Principles, to underpin revision of the Convention, was also drafted.[2]


[1]. The course was held in Sydney and Canberra on 13-24 August 2001.

[2]. This was accepted by member states at the IAEA Genereral Conference in September 2001.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade