MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER





FA41

16 MAY 1997

INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR SAFEGUARDS SYSTEM STRENGTHENED

I welcome the adoption of a model protocol to strengthen the international nuclear safeguards system by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors on lS May.

The discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapon program in l99l highlighted the fact that, while the classical safeguards system had served the international community well for over two decades, there were limitations in that system which had to be addressed.

The model protocol contains measures to enhance the IAEA's ability to detect undeclared nuclear activities, principally through new technical methods such as environmental sampling techniques, improved access to nuclear-related sites, and improved availability and analysis of nuclear-related information.

Australia has been a strong supporter of the IAEA's program to strengthen safeguards and has played a key role in bringing the model protocol negotiations to a conclusion. I urge other countries to join Australia in the early adoption of the model protocol as the new standard for nuclear safeguards agreements between individual states and the IAEA.

For further information: Ministerial - Peter Collins on 06 277 7500 and

DFAT - Tony Melville/Kirk Coningham 06 261 1555