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UK’s contentious new arrangement for nuclear safeguards, following exit from Euratom

David Lowry’s Blog 17th May 2018 , Brexit correspondent missed the main issue arising from the UK nuclear
regulator’s report leaked to Sky News. On July 13 last year, the UK
Government position paper on “Nuclear materials and safeguards issues,”
included the key proposal that the UK will: “take responsibility for
meeting the UK’s safeguards obligations, as agree with IAEA
(International Atomic Energy Agency).”

Currently “ safeguards” are applied in the UK under a ‘voluntary ‘trilateral treaty between the UK,
Euratom and the IAEA. It comprises 36 pages in total, opening with the key
element in the treaty stating in A r t i c l e 1(a) “The United Kingdom
shall accept the application of safeguards, in accordance with the terms of
this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in facilities
or parts thereof within the United Kingdom, subject to exclusions for
national security reasons only (my emphasis)

The exclusion opt out is explained at Article 14 which reads in part: “If the United Kingdom
intends to make any withdrawals of nuclear material from the scope of this
Agreement for national security reasons …. it shall give the Community
(ie Euratom) and the Agency (IAEA) advance notice of such withdrawal…”

The ONR has been given unprecedented responsibility for policing a
diplomatically contentious new arrangement, which will increase suspicion
among member states of the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty ( for which
the UK , as a co-drafter of the treaty text, is one of three depositary
states) – which ministers pray-in-aid whenever they discuss the rationale
for a UK nuclear safeguards system. However, ministers routinely
cherry-pick those parts of the NPT that suite their purposes: but the NPT
is an integrated diplomatic agreement, with its articles all relevant and

Cherry-picking is both diplomatically unwise, as it normalises
abrogation for other signatory nations, and undermines the very treaty for
which the UK is supposed to act as a protective depositary state!


May 22, 2018 - Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, UK

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