27 Mar (NucNet): The UK has made good progress in negotiations for new safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency to replace existing agreements between UK, the IAEA and Euratom following the UKs departure from the European Union, the government said in a statement on 26 March 2018.
The statement said both the UK and IAEA are clear that the new agreements – a voluntary offer agreement and an additional protocol – should follow the same principles and scope as the current trilateral agreements. “We will continue to offer a comprehensive facilities list to the IAEA, enabling them to designate and inspect their chosen sites for the purposes of international verification,” the statement said.
In January the government set out its two-fold strategy its exit from Euratom, an association which is legally separate from the EU but governed by the EU’s institutions and covers issues such as the transport of radioactive materials.
This strategy included a commitment to put in place measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, at which point the UK will be legally responsible for its own nuclear safeguards regime.
In order to ensure continuity for the nuclear sector, on 22 March the government notified the IAEA that the UK will be taking legal responsibility for its own nuclear safeguards regime after Brexit and started the process of seeking a new agreement with the Vienna-based UN agency.
“We expect these agreements to undergo UK ratification later this year. The agreements will only come into force once existing agreements no longer apply,” the government said.
“We will continue to seek a close association with Euratom, including the possibility of future cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards, and any potential role for Euratom in supporting the establishment of the UK’s own domestic safeguards regime.”