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15 November 1999
DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
Australia and France have exchanged letters on the transfer
to France of spent fuel elements from the research reactor at
Lucas Heights, as part of their Bilateral Nuclear Safeguards
The exchange of letters sets out conditions for the spent
fuel to be reprocessed by the Compagnie Générale
des Matières Nucléaires (COGEMA) at their La Hague
facility. Reprocessing separates radioactive waste from the spent
fuel and converts it into a stable waste form.
In line with Australia's view that countries are responsible
for the long term management of their own radioactive wastes,
the waste arising from reprocessing will be returned to Australia.
The transfer of Australian spent fuel elements for reprocessing
in France complies fully with Australia's international obligations
relating to safeguards, physical security, transport and safety
and is consistent with Australia's non-proliferation objectives
Under the Australia-France Agreement, all nuclear material
is subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to
ensure that nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful use.