The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
 FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AUSTRALIA

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
28 July 2001

Australia and the Czech Republic Sign Safeguards Agreement

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Downer, announced today that Australia and the Czech Republic have signed a bilateral Agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the transfer of nuclear material. 

The Agreement was signed in Prague on 27 July 2001 by Australia's Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Ms Margaret Adamson, and the Czech Minister for Industry and Trade, Mr Miroslav Gregr.  The Agreement will contribute to developing Australia's relations with the Czech Republic, and demonstrates the shared commitments of the two countries to the international non-proliferation regime.  The Agreement stipulates strict safeguards, verification and physical protection measures over Australian uranium that might be supplied to the Czech Republic for nuclear power generation.

All of Australia's uranium is exported for exclusively peaceful purposes, and only to countries and parties with which Australia has a bilateral safeguards Agreement.  This ensures that Australia's nuclear exports remain in exclusively peaceful use, and may only be retransferred to a party with a bilateral safeguards Agreement with Australia.

Like Australia, the Czech Republic is a signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and is a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  The Czech Republic has signed an Additional Protocol to its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, allowing the IAEA to implement strengthened safeguards measures, and is currently working towards bringing this in to force. 

Australia currently has 15 bilateral safeguards Agreements in place, covering 25 countries (one is with the European Atomic Energy Community, Euratom).  Australia's network of bilateral nuclear safeguards Agreements complements and builds upon the IAEA's safeguards regime. 

The Agreement is a treaty-level document, and it is anticipated that it will be tabled in the Parliament this year.  The treaty will enter into force once each country completes its domestic and constitutional requirements. 

Media inquiries:
Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500
Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

FA113/2001


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