UK secures EU Agreement on Nuclear Safeguards

Department for Trade and Industry Press Release, 12 June 1998

Three new agreements to strengthen nuclear safeguards have been approved by the EU General Affairs Council (GAC) and by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Additional Protocols will give a boost to the IAEA's nuclear safeguards system which is designed to ensure that nuclear materials are not diverted to nuclear weapons or to any other nuclear explosive device.

The Minister for Trade, Lord Clinton-Davis said:

'The conclusion of these agreements represents a major achievement for the UK Presidency of the EU. Once implemented, they will allow the IAEA to gain much more information about the whole range of a country's nuclear activities. They will also provide for increased access to sites to check that information. As a result, the IAEA will have a much clearer picture of nuclear activity in any country and will be in a stronger position to detect any clandestine activity.'

The three Protocols include one each for France and the UK and one covering the remaining thirteen EU states, which do not have nuclear weapons. Lord Clinton-Davis continued:

'These important Protocols put the EU at the forefront of moves to boost the IAEA's safeguards system. The agreements and similar agreements for the USA and Canada, which were approved by the IAEA at the same time, are the first of their kind to be concluded by states with major civil nuclear facilities. The agreements for the UK, France and the United States are the first to be concluded by nuclear weapon states. We hope that all states with nuclear safeguards agreements will follow suit as soon as possible.'

1. The Additional Protocols were agreed by the Council of Ministers on Monday 8 June at the GAC in Brussels and were today approved by the Board of Governors of the IAEA.

2. The three Protocols are additional to the European Union's existing nuclear safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency. One covers the thirteen non-nuclear states who are members of the EU, and there is one each for the UK and France. The European Atomic Energy Community - EURATOM - is also a party to all three agreements.

3. The DTI has responsibility for the implementation of nuclear safeguards in the UK and has led the UK and EU Presidency negotiating teams both within the EU and the IAEA. The agreement fulfils a UK commitment to the IAEA Board made in May 1997 when the Model Protocol, on which these agreements are based, was agreed. Similar commitments were also made by the other four nuclear weapons states.