MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA 112

24 September 1997

AUSTRALIA FIRST TO SIGN PROTOCOL TO STRENGTHEN NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS

I warmly welcome the signature in Vienna yesterday of a Protocol supplementing and strengthening Australia's basic nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Australia is the first country to sign the new protocol. This reflects the Government's strong support for the IAEA's efforts to strengthen the international safeguards system.

I urge other countries to join Australia in the early adoption of the model protocol as the new standard for international safeguards.


The Protocol is based on a model protocol intended for adoption by each country having a safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The protocol incorporates measures to strengthen safeguards which have been developed in response to the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program in 1991. The new safeguards measures will enhance the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. An effective and efficient international safeguards system underpins international nuclear cooperation and regional and global nuclear security. Australia is actively involved in the IAEA's program to strengthen safeguards and played a key role in the negotiation of the model protocol.


Minor amendments are required to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987 in order to implement the protocol in Australia. The amendments in question have been included in the Foreign Affairs and Trade Legislation Amendment Bill currently before the Parliament.

For further information: Ministerial - Innes Willox on 02 6277 7500 and

DFAT - Tony Melville/Kirk Coningham 02 6261 1555