26 March 2009 - Uranium industry supports anti-proliferation drive

Australia’s uranium industry has strongly supported efforts by the Rudd Government to drive progress towards more robust nuclear non-proliferation measures and eventual nuclear disarmament.

Appearing before a Parliamentary committee examining the nation’s nuclear treaties, Australian Uranium Association Executive Director Michael Angwin said Australia’s standing in international diplomacy and as the world’s second largest uranium exporter gave us a unique role and opportunity.

“In our view, a robust anti-proliferation and disarmament system is in the best interest of the world, of Australia and of the uranium exporting industry,” Mr Angwin said.

He praised Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for creating the Gareth Evans – led International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament and for tasking the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties with a complete review of all nuclear-related treaties.

Mr Angwin said the uranium industry believed that Australia’s capacity and history in international diplomacy “potentially give Australia, and this Committee, an opportunity to exercise influence in shaping the anti-proliferation system”.

Now was an opportune time to take up this task with “the renewed American interest in anti-proliferation and disarmament under President Obama.”

Continuing expansion of nuclear power in response to energy security and climate change concerns meant it was timely to assess the systems, processes and resources that would be required to meet future anti-proliferation requirements, Mr Angwin said.

He said the Committee’s task was to help the Rudd Government with insights into the lessons to be learned from the past operation of the anti-proliferation system and by identifying the challenges that system faces in future and how they might be addressed.

The Committee could demonstrate to the Rudd Government how Australia’s safeguard system – implemented by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), within the Department of Foreign Affairs - meshes with international systems administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Committee could “identify where gaps need to be filled and where linkages need to be strengthened,” Mr Angwin said.

The Committee has received more than 70 written submissions and is currently conducting public hearings and roundtable discussions in capital cities. The Committee is due to report by 30 June 2009 and its report will help the Government prepare for an international review of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 2010.