Annual Report 2008-2009

Annual Report home |

Table of Contents |

Userguide |

Download versions

1.Director General's Report2. Current Topics3. Overview4. Performance5. Management and Accountability6. Appendices and Glossaries

Your location:

Current Topics

Current Topics

Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network
Information-Driven Safeguards
Detection and Analysis of the DPRK Nuclear Test in May 2009
Australia’s Bilateral Safeguards Agreements
Agreements for Physical Protection
Application of IAEA safeguards in the Nuclear-Weapon States
Safeguards and Physical Protection for Uranium Mining and Transport
International Obligations
Domestic Legislation
Security Requirements
Safeguards and Export Requirements
Inspections
Australia’s Uranium Production and Exports
Chemical Weapons Convention: “Other Chemical Production Facilities”
Photo - See caption below for description
ASNO, ANSTO and UK participants at the ASNO hosted Workshop on Verifying Nuclear Disarmament – Concepts and Techniques, 5–6 November 2008, Canberra.
Enlarge image

Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network

The Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network (APSN) is an informal network of safeguards authorities, ministries and other organisations responsible for implementing safeguards in the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The objective of the APSN is to promote safeguards best practice in the region. This will be achieved through enhanced cooperation in areas such as training, professional development and the sharing of experiences.

The establishment of APSN was agreed at a meeting of senior officials representing 14 organisations from 11 Asia-Pacific states, together with the IAEA, held in Seoul on 15–16 April 2009. It was agreed that APSN will formally commence on 1 October 2009. The Director General of ASNO, John Carlson, was appointed first Chair of APSN, and ASNO will provide the Secretariat for APSN.

This was the second meeting of senior officials to discuss this subject, following the first meeting in Sydney on 26–27 June 2007. The APSN concept was endorsed by APEC Energy Ministers in October 2006, though APSN is no longer proceeding under APEC auspices.

APSN will not replicate the work of the IAEA—it will not have an inspectorate nor will it undertake verification activities. Rather, in collaboration with the IAEA, which will have permanent observer status, APSN will conduct a range of activities such as the following:

The Indonesian nuclear regulator, BAPETEN, has offered to host the first meeting of APSN, probably in April 2010.

Photo - See caption below for description
Meeting of Senior Officials to discuss the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network 15–16 April 2009 (Seoul, Republic of Korea). Photo courtesy of KINAC
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Information-Driven Safeguards

In the first two decades of the NPT, as the nuclear industry expanded, the focus of IAEA safeguards was on known (declared) nuclear materials and facilities. It was thought that any undeclared nuclear activities would be revealed through diversion of nuclear material from declared activities.

The IAEA developed a complex verification system, including: inspection, sampling, analysis and monitoring methods; safeguards standards; safeguards equipment; and safeguards performance evaluation. Emphasis was placed on nuclear material accountancy, with containment and surveillance described as “complementary” measures. The policy of non-discrimination led to uniformity in safeguards implementation, resulting in inspection resources being concentrated in states with substantial nuclear programs regardless of any holistic proliferation risk analysis.

Since the early 1990s a number of factors—particularly the discovery of Iraq’s clandestine weapons program and the illicit spread of sensitive nuclear technologies, especially centrifuge enrichment—has shifted attention to developing the legal authority and technical capabilities needed for detection of undeclared nuclear activities, which might have no obvious connection to declared activities. This has prompted fundamental changes in safeguards—including greater use of information, a broadening of verification activity, and the drawing of more qualitative safeguards conclusions. At the same time, the growth in safeguards workload and in complex nuclear facilities has led to technical measures such as containment and surveillance assuming greater importance.

Underpinning the effort to strengthen safeguards is the additional protocol (AP)—a legal instrument complementary to safeguards agreements, which establishes the IAEA’s rights to more extensive information and physical access. Under the AP, the IAEA places much greater emphasis on the collection and analysis of information that can enhance its knowledge and understanding of a state’s nuclear programs. The AP extends the Agency’s authority into a number of areas where nuclear material would not normally be present, such as manufacture of centrifuge components, heavy water, nuclear grade graphite, shielded flasks, and construction of hot cells. The rationale for this is clear: the Agency can—and should—look at broader information that strengthens its ability to verify and draw conclusions regarding nuclear material in the state concerned. This encompasses procedures to find indicators of undeclared nuclear material and nuclear activities, or indicators of proposed diversion of nuclear material.

It is this move towards “information-driven” safeguards that has been crucial to efforts to improve the overall effectiveness of the safeguards verification system. Safeguards are moving from uniformity to a state-level approach, under which decisions on verification intensity can reflect state-specific factors. The state-level approach is essential to optimising effectiveness and efficiency, enabling scarce safeguards resources to be deployed to areas of highest priority.

An important development in this regard is the introduction of “integrated safeguards”. This is not a new form of safeguards, but a rationalisation of safeguards activities under a combination of a comprehensive safeguards agreement and an additional protocol. A state qualifies for integrated safeguards once the IAEA is able to draw the broader conclusion that all declared materials are appropriately accounted for and that there are no undeclared materials or activities of safeguards significance.

The greatest technical challenge facing IAEA safeguards is establishing a reliable capability of detecting undeclared nuclear activities. The IAEA’s technical skills are increasing—but the Agency cannot be expected to find undeclared nuclear activities unaided. Member states have given the Agency vital technical assistance in development of and training in equipment, detection technologies (such as sensors and satellite imagery) and so on. But more is needed in the area of information-sharing. States have substantial information, including intelligence (“national technical means”) and export data (encompassing both items supplied and items denied). Detecting undeclared nuclear activities—or providing credible assurance of their absence—requires an active partnership between the Agency and states.

It is essential that the Agency’s conclusions on the absence of undeclared nuclear material/activities are credible. The international community must be confident that the absence of indicators does not simply reflect inadequate or ineffective verification effort. The Agency is devoting considerable effort to the development of verification methods that will provide a credible result. However, more than ever, it is essential for safeguards to be complemented by other non-proliferation measures, such as transparency and confidence-building mechanisms.

Detection and Analysis of the DPRK Nuclear Test in May 2009

On 25 May 2009, the DPRK announced that it had carried out a nuclear test explosion. Seismic sensors in the CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS) had promptly alerted the international community to the event, and analysis of the apparent test had started even before the DPRK’s announcement.

The IMS seismometer array at Warramunga near Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory provided scientists at Geoscience Australia in Canberra with the first evidence of an event of concern. The event was later confirmed in data from another 38 CTBT monitoring stations, including several in Australia. Other seismic stations established for seismic research or for hazard monitoring that are not part of the CTBT system are also reported to have detected the event.

Based on analysis of seismic data, the explosion at 9:54 am local time on 25 May 2009 is estimated to have had a yield between one and 4.6 kilotons. This is several times larger than the first DPRK nuclear test, in October 2006, but still quite small compared to most nuclear tests conducted by the nuclear-weapon states in the past. The clear detection of the DPRK tests in 2006 and 2009 by seismic stations has demonstrated how seismic monitoring provides a strong underpinning for verification of the CTBT when it enters into force.

In addition to seismic monitoring, the IMS employs other sensing technologies to determine whether an event is a nuclear explosion, including detection of radionuclides, that is, radioactive gases and particles emitted by a nuclear explosion, as well as infrasound and hydroacoustic monitoring.

After the 2006 test, radioactive xenon was detected by a CTBT radionuclide monitoring station in Canada, supporting the assessment that the 2006 test was a nuclear explosion. However, no radionuclides were detected following the 2009 test. This suggests that radionuclides generated by the explosion have been largely contained underground—whether by chance or design is not clear. Some have speculated that the DPRK might have used a very large quantity of conventional explosives to simulate a nuclear test. However, it would be very difficult to arrange such a large conventional explosion, and to hide the significant preparations required from satellite monitoring.

In order to clarify whether a nuclear explosion has occurred in cases such as this, the CTBT provides for the conduct of an on-site inspection (OSI). But this is not possible before the Treaty enters into force—and entry into force requires ratification by all Annex 2 countries, including the DPRK. Although the 2009 test does not appear to have vented radioactive particles or gases in quantities sufficient to be detected at a distance, on-site investigation could be expected to find such evidence. Noble gases should rise to the surface over time, even from a well contained nuclear explosion, and be detectable. An inspection team would also look for other evidence such as small seismic aftershocks, ground disturbance, or artefacts of test activity at or below the ground surface. Drilling could also take place to obtain samples at an explosion site.

Australia’s Bilateral Safeguards Agreements

The Australian Government’s uranium policy limits the export of Australian uranium to countries that are a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), have an Additional Protocol in force and are within Australia’s network of bilateral safeguards agreements. These bilateral safeguards agreements serve as a mechanism for applying IAEA safeguards, appropriate nuclear security and a number of supplementary conditions. Nuclear material subject to the provisions of an Australian safeguards agreement is known as Australian Obligated Nuclear Material (AONM). The obligations of Australia’s agreements apply to uranium as it moves through the different stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, and to nuclear material generated through the use of that uranium.

All Australia’s safeguards agreements contain treaty-level assurances that AONM will be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and will be covered by safeguards arrangements under each country’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

In the case of non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS), it is a minimum requirement that IAEA safeguards apply to all existing and future nuclear material and activities in that country. In the case of nuclear-weapon states (NWS), AONM must be covered by safeguards arrangements under that country’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA, and is limited to use for civil (i.e. non-military) purposes.

The principal conditions for the use of AONM set out in Australia’s safeguards agreements are:

Australia’s bilateral partners holding AONM are required to maintain detailed records of transactions involving AONM. In addition, counterpart organisations in bilateral partner countries are required to submit regular reports, consent requests, transfer and receipt documentation to ASNO. ASNO accounts for AONM on the basis of information and knowledge including:

Australia currently has 22 nuclear safeguards agreements in force, covering 39 countries plus Taiwan (see Appendix B).[5]

The current Australia/US and Australia/EU safeguards agreement, which entered into force in January 1981 and January 1982 respectively, are both due to expire after 30 years duration. Extension will require treaty action. Both these agreements currently conform to the above mentioned criteria. Australia’s other safeguards agreements provide for automatic extensions, and also meet the criteria outlined above.

Australia has also signed, but not ratified a new nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia in 2007 and is negotiating an amendment to the Australia/China nuclear transfers agreement.

Agreements for Physical Protection

For countries with which Australia does not have a bilateral safeguards agreement in force, but through which Australian uranium ore concentrates (UOC) are transhipped, Australia’s policy to date has been the need for a separate treaty level agreement to ensure the security of the shipment while in port. This policy was established in 1984, before the relevant international security instrument, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) had entered into force. To date, Australia has concluded only one agreement of this type—with Singapore in 1989.

In May 2009, the Minister for Foreign Affairs decided that arrangements with a state to ensure the security of UOC during trans-shipment can be set out in an instrument with less than treaty status, provided the state is a party to the CPPNM, has adopted the IAEA’s Additional Protocol on strengthened safeguards, and acts in accordance with these agreements. The decision was taken in consultation with the Departments of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Defence, Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, the Attorney-General’s Department, and Resources, Energy and Tourism.

Any new arrangement of this kind would be subject to risk assessment of port security, and be at least as rigorous as that set out in the treaty-level agreement with Singapore. As of 30 June 2009, no new arrangements had been concluded.

Application of IAEA safeguards in the Nuclear-Weapon States

Safeguards are legal and technical measures applied under treaties to provide assurance that nuclear material and nuclear items are not diverted from peaceful use to nuclear weapons. The principal treaty in this area is the NPT. The obligation of the parties to accept IAEA safeguards under the NPT—and the corresponding responsibility of the IAEA to apply safeguards—is specified in the provisions of that Treaty.

Article III of the NPT requires non-nuclear-weapon states to accept IAEA safeguards on all their nuclear material, to verify fulfilment of obligations under the NPT not to acquire nuclear weapons. The IAEA has a corresponding responsibility to apply safeguards on all nuclear material and facilities in non-nuclear-weapon states.

In the case of the five nuclear-weapon states recognised under the NPT (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China) there is no obligation in the NPT for these states to accept IAEA safeguards, and there is no obligation for the IAEA to apply safeguards. For these states, any obligation for nuclear material or facilities to be eligible for safeguards is based on bilateral agreements rather than the NPT itself. No state is proposing the general application of IAEA safeguards inspections in nuclear-weapon states.

Each of the nuclear-weapon states has concluded a “voluntary offer” safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Under these agreements, nuclear-weapon states may designate nuclear material as being subject to safeguards, and therefore eligible for IAEA inspection, by placing the relevant facilities on an “Eligible Facility List”.

The IAEA selects those facilities on the Eligible Facility List that it wishes to inspect. In practice, the IAEA usually only inspects facilities where inspectors benefit through gaining experience with a particular type of facility, or where there is nuclear material being transferred to or received from a non-nuclear-weapon state. Where the IAEA chooses not to inspect particular facilities, this does not mean that inclusion of a facility on the Eligible Facility List is of no safeguards value. If a nuclear-weapon state were to use a facility on its Eligible Facility List for military purposes, this would place it in breach of its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. Furthermore, because any eligible facility may be selected for inspection, the facility operator should maintain nuclear accountancy records and other safeguards procedures at IAEA standards so that an inspection can be readily performed if the facility is selected.

The application of safeguards is not mechanistic: rather, determining the level of safeguards sufficient to provide confidence of non-diversion is a matter for judgment based on decades of experience by the IAEA. As all of the recognised nuclear-weapon states ceased production of fissile material for nuclear weapons in the 1980s or early 1990s, the risk they might divert nuclear material subject to safeguards from civil programs to nuclear weapons programs is remote. Therefore, it has been the IAEA’s long-standing practice—accepted by its Board and member states—that the priority for safeguards inspection effort is countering “horizontal proliferation”, i.e. the acquisition of nuclear weapons by further states. That said, in 2008 the IAEA inspected 3 facilities in China, 2 in France, 3 in the United Kingdom and 4 in the United States. The IAEA also inspected fresh fuel in Russia destined for use in the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. The IAEA is likely to commence inspections at the international uranium enrichment centre in Russia, located at Angarsk, in the near future.

Safeguards and Physical Protection for Uranium Mining and Transport

Uranium is more than a tradeable commodity—it is also a strategic commodity. With the world’s largest uranium reserves, and as a major uranium exporter, it is in Australia’s national interest to exercise effective control over uranium mines and uranium ore concentrates (UOC). This is also required under international treaty obligations. Accordingly, Australia has adopted stringent safeguards and security (physical protection) practices to ensure Australian uranium remains exclusively in peaceful use.

International Obligations

Article III of the NPT imposes an obligation on Australia to ensure that no nuclear material under its jurisdiction is diverted from permitted uses—this requires the application of effective controls, necessitating appropriate physical protection and material accountancy.

Under Australia’s IAEA safeguards agreement, Australia is required to report to the IAEA the quantity, composition and destination of its UOC exports. To ensure the accuracy of the reported information, Australia prescribes minimum measurement and analytical standards for UOC.

The Additional Protocol (AP) to Australia’s IAEA safeguards agreement strengthens safeguards obligations applying to uranium. The AP provides for complementary access by IAEA inspectors, inter alia, to uranium mining/milling locations on a selective basis, “in order to assure the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities”. The AP also requires reporting of the location, operational status, annual production capacity, actual production of uranium mines and related concentration plants.

Neither the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) nor its amendment—an extension of the CPPNM’s scope to cover domestic use, storage and transport—specifically apply to UOC at mines, apart from the requirement for protection “in accordance with prudent management practice”. In defining prudent management practice, Australia draws from international and domestic security guidelines, including recommendations set out in the IAEA’s guidelines, IAEA document INFCIRC/225.

Domestic Legislation

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 (the “Safeguards Act”) gives effect to Australia’s obligations under the NPT, Australia’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA and its AP, Australia’s network of bilateral safeguards agreements and the CPPNM. Under the Safeguards Act, UOC is defined as nuclear material. Any person that has a requirement to possess nuclear material for mining/milling, storage or transport in Australia is required to have either a “Permit to Possess Nuclear Material” or “Permit to Transport Nuclear Material”, issued by the responsible minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs. A “Permit to Establish” is required to construct a uranium mine.

Permits include conditions for accounting for and controlling nuclear material (safeguards) and physical protection (security). Permit conditions are tailored to the relevant activities being conducted by uranium mines and transporters, and balance performance-based and prescriptive requirements. Security and accounting requirements apply to all UOC, including samples, but focus on final product, not uranium ores.

For the uranium industry, the Safeguards Act is applicable to:

Security Requirements

Permits require the formation of a security plan for the possession of nuclear material at mines and for the transport of nuclear material. These plans describe the steps taken to achieve protection against theft and sabotage, and the location and recovery of any missing material.

An important security element built into permits is the ability to add additional security measures (e.g. increased guard patrols), at short notice, so that mines, transporters or other handlers of UOC can be prepared for elevated threat levels, if such circumstances were to arise.

A key message for prospective uranium mining companies is to consult with ASNO early in the mine development and construction phase. Security infrastructure is most cost effective when incorporated into the original design of a concentration plant.

ASNO approves security arrangements for vessels and shipping routes carrying UOC to international destinations. Current policy requires that states trans-shipping Australian UOC must have in force with Australia a treaty-level bilateral agreement covering physical protection arrangements; or be a party to the CPPNM, have adopted the IAEA’s Additional Protocol, and conclude a less-than-treaty status arrangement with Australia covering security matters. In either case ASNO will conduct a risk analysis of port security.

Safeguards and Export Requirements

While the Minister for Resources and Energy issues uranium export permits under the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 which are generally granted for 10 year periods, permit conditions under the Safeguards Act apply to individual shipments to ensure compliance with Government policy, namely to export uranium only to NPT states with an Additional Protocol with the IAEA in force and with which Australia has a bilateral safeguards agreement. As noted above, international shipping routes also need approval under the permit system to ensure the security of UOC during transportation. ASNO also requires that mines report production capacity and annual production so that Australia can fulfil its reporting requirements to the IAEA.

Inspections

ASNO conducts inspections of uranium mines and transport arrangements to ensure safeguards and security requirements are being met. Specifically, the accounting records, measurement equipment, security infrastructure, plans and procedures are audited against permit conditions and tested for their effectiveness. The IAEA may also conduct complementary access under the AP at uranium mines.

Photo - See caption below for description
The Ranger laterite mill in foreground, laterite crusher and run-of-mine in background.
Photo courtesy of ERA
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Australia’s Uranium Production and Exports

Statistics related to Australia’s exports of Uranium Ore Concentrates are listed in Table 1 below.

Australia holds 38% of the world’s reasonably assured uranium resources recoverable at less than US$80/kg.[6] In 2008, the Ranger and Olympic Dam mines were respectively the world’s second largest (10.4% of world uranium production) and fourth largest (7.6% of world uranium production) uranium producers.[7] Overall, Australia is the third largest uranium producer after Canada and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan’s uranium production has increased sharply in recent years and Kazakhstan will likely become the world’s largest producer in 2009.

Table 1:  UOC export and nuclear electricity statistics[8] [9] [10]

Item
Data
UOC Exports  
Total UOC exports 2008–09 10,114 tonnes
Value UOC exports A$1,033 million
Australian exports as % world uranium requirements8 ~13%
No. of reactors (1000 MWe) these exports could power9 ~49
Power generated by these exports ~345 TWh
Expressed as % of total Australian electricity production10 ~125%

Figure 1 shows that Australia’s exports of UOC slightly dropped in 2008–09 from the previous year, however the value of Australia’s exports continues to climb as long-term contracts set at low prices expired and are replaced by new contracts more closely reflecting current spot prices. The value of Australia’s uranium exports in 2008–09 surpassed $1 billion for the first time.

Worldwide, uranium mining currently provides only about two thirds of global industry requirements, with the balance coming from down-blending of excess weapons material, stockpiles and reprocessing. Uranium prices have begun to increase in anticipation of the completion of the US–Russia Megatons to Megawatts program in 2013. It is clear that new mines will be necessary to meet current, as well as future increases in demand.

Figure 1: Quantity and value of Australian UOC exports

Figure 1: Quantity and value of Australian UOC exports

Figure 2: Civil Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Figure 2: Civil Nuclear Fuel Cycle

A characteristic of the nuclear fuel cycle is the international interdependence of facility operators and power utilities. It is unusual for a country to be entirely self-contained in the processing of uranium for civil use. Even in the nuclear-weapon states, power utilities will often go to other countries seeking the most favourable terms for uranium processing and enrichment. It would not be unusual, for example, for a Japanese utility buying Australian uranium to have the uranium converted to uranium hexafluoride in Canada, enriched in France, fabricated into fuel in Japan and reprocessed in the United Kingdom.

The international flow of nuclear material means that nuclear materials are routinely mixed during processes such as conversion and enrichment and as such cannot be separated by origin thereafter. Therefore tracking of individual uranium atoms is impossible. Since nuclear material is fungible—that is, any given atom is the same as any other—a uranium exporter is able to ensure its exports do not contribute to military applications by applying safeguards obligations to the overall quantity of material it exports. This practice of tracking quantities rather than atoms has led to the establishment of universal conventions for the industry, known as the principles of equivalence and proportionality. The equivalence principle provides that where AONM loses its separate identity because of process characteristics (e.g. mixing), an equivalent quantity of that material is designated as AONM. These equivalent quantities may be derived by calculation, measurement or from operating plant parameters. The equivalence principle does not permit substitution by a lower quality material. The proportionality principle provides that where AONM is mixed with other nuclear material and is then processed or irradiated, a corresponding proportion of the resulting material will be regarded as AONM.

Chemical Weapons Convention: “Other Chemical Production Facilities”

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires all member states to declare and destroy existing stockpiles of chemical weapons, and bans the development or acquisition of any new chemical weapons.

The international organisation responsible for global implementation of the CWC, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), dedicates most of its resources to verifying the destruction of existing chemical weapons. However, the OPCW also monitors the chemical industry to ensure that chemical facilities, and the chemicals they produce, are not being used for prohibited purposes. This is an essential confidence-building measure, providing assurance to the international community that member states are not violating their treaty obligations.

One type of industrial chemical manufacturing facility of interest to the OPCW is referred to under the CWC as “Other Chemical Production Facilities” (OCPFs). This type of facility is used to produce discrete organic chemicals and includes manufacturers of insecticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, specialty industrial chemicals, agricultural and veterinary chemicals. As a type of “catch-all” category, OCPFs constitute the largest numbers of facilities declarable under the CWC.

The chemicals produced at OCPFs need not be toxic or related to the production of chemical weapons (CW). Rather, it is the potential of these facilities to produce CW, or CW precursors that is of interest to the OPCW. From a verification perspective, OCPFs that produce chemicals containing phosphorous, sulphur or fluorine are of particular interest, as these types of facilities, if they were to be misused, are likely to be the most suitable for producing CW.

Selection of declared OCPF sites for OPCW inspection is based on a methodology that takes into account equitable geographic distribution of inspections and declared information on the characteristics of the plant site and activities carried out there. Each year, CWC member states agree on the numbers of OCPF inspections within the program and budget negotiations for the OPCW. Given the need to balance the verification cost against the potential risk posed by OCPFs, it is important that the OPCW focus inspection effort on the most relevant sites, and that adequate numbers of inspections occur each year.

There are over 4,600 OCPFs declared worldwide in approximately 80 countries, including 30 declared by Australia. In 2008, the OPCW conducted 118 routine OCPF inspections, including two in Australia. While OCPFs are regarded as sites with the potential for misuse of chemical equipment for prohibited purposes, very few—only about 12%—have been inspected since the commencement of this type of inspection in 2000. This highlights the need to strengthen verification effort at OCPFs by ensuring that the most relevant facilities are inspected and that the numbers of OCPFs inspections are appropriately balanced against inspections of chemical facilities producing or using CWC-Scheduled chemicals.[11]

Experience in the application of verification at OCPFs has shown that, while the inspection regime is working well, it could be improved through efforts such as:

For some years now, ASNO has been providing assistance in CWC implementation to member countries upon request, including technical comments on CWC legislation and advice in identifying declarable OCPFs. Facilities not declared to the OPCW, either because they have not yet been identified or because of the absence of legislative or administrative arrangements enabling data collection, are not subject to routine OPCW inspection. This highlights the importance of efforts to enhance the completeness of declarations in achieving a more effective, as well as more equitable, verification mechanism.

ASNO (through Australia’s embassy in The Hague) works closely with other member countries to reach agreement each year on the distribution of inspection type through the OPCW’s budget process. Our aim is to enable increased numbers of OCPF inspections without adversely impacting verification of CWC-Scheduled chemical facilities. ASNO also continues to provide policy advice to The Hague for Australia’s contribution to discussions within the Industry Cluster of meetings on the OCPF inspection methodology. ASNO briefing is not only based on sound verification principles, but incorporates Australian industry views regarding proposals for enhancement of the OCPF declaration format to enable the inspection methodology to target OCPFs of greater relevance to the object and purpose of the Convention.

Australia was among the first group of countries to trial and accept sequential inspections. This practice has now become an integral part of the verification regime and is one means of achieving increased numbers of OCPFs within existing budgetary constraints, thereby improving the coverage of OCPF verification.


[4] Australia has given reprocessing consent on a programmatic basis to the UK, France and Japan. Separated Australian-obligated plutonium is intended for blending with uranium into mixed oxide fuel (MOX) for further use for nuclear power generation.

[5] Twenty-seven of the countries making up this total are European Union member states.

[6] World figures from Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand, OECD NEA and IAEA. Australia’s resource figures from the Geoscience Australia publication, Australia’s Identified Mineral Resources 2009.

[7] Australian production compared with table of top uranium producers from the World Nuclear Association’s (WNA) World Uranium Mining (July 2009)—www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf23.html.

[8] Based on 2008 world requirements of 64,617 tonnes uranium (WNA’s World Uranium Mining, July 2009).

[9] Based on a comparison of TWh of nuclear electricity generation and uranium required, for countries eligible to use AONM. Source: WNA’s “World Nuclear Power Reactors 2007–09 and Uranium Requirements” (http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/reactors-dec2008.html).

[10] Australia’s gross electricity generation in 2008–09 is estimated to be 277 TWh. Source: Australian Energy, National and State Projections to 2029–30—Statistical Tables, ABARE Research Report December 2007.

[11] CWC-Scheduled chemicals are chemical warfare agents or their precursor chemicals as listed in Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the CWC.

 

Return to top of page