Annual Report 2008-2009

Annual Report home |

Table of Contents |

Userguide |

Download versions

1.Director General's Report2. Current Topics3. Overview4. Performance5. Management and Accountability6. Appendices and Glossaries

Your location:

Performance

Performance

Output 1.1: National Safeguards System
Output 1.2: Physical Protection
Output 1.3: Bilateral Safeguards
Output 1.4: International Safeguards and Non-Proliferation
Output 1.5: CWC Implementation
Output 1.6: CTBT Implementation
Output 1.7: Other Non-Proliferation Regimes
Output 1.8: Advice to Government
Output 2.1: Public Information

Output 1.1: National Safeguards System

Operation of Australia’s national system of accounting for, and control of, nuclear material, items and facilities.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

International Obligations Reporting

ASNO met all of Australia’s obligations during the reporting period for the submission of declarations and notifications on nuclear materials and facilities as required by Australia’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

ASNO reported changes to Australia’s nuclear material inventory to the IAEA on a monthly basis. These reports are summarised in Tables 2 and 3 below. In particular, ASNO regularly audited and reported on the inventory at the Lucas Heights site of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the principal location in Australia of nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards. The high number of reports attributed to “other locations” relates to holdings of chemical salts, mainly held by universities, and depleted uranium shielding held by industrial radiographers.

Table 2: ASNO reports (line entries) to the IAEA, 2003–2009, by facility

Facility
2003–04
2004–05
2005–06
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
ANSTO research laboratories
539
498
451
454
550
588
HIFAR (defuelled 2007)
103
103
36
66
27
117
ANSTO vault storage
23
22
18
18
18
27
Moata (defuelled 1995)
0
11
83
9
11
10
OPAL reactor
0
0
28
67
60
106
Silex laboratories
59
34
35
39
68
4
Other locations
2 483
2 198
2 258
3 252
3 024
3 286
TOTAL
3 207
2 866
2 909
3 905
3 758
4 138

Table 3: ASNO reports (line entries) to the IAEA, 2003–2009, by data type

Type of Data
2003–04
2004–05
2005–06
2006–07
2007–08
2008–09
Inventory Change Report
813
496
407
839
488
589
Physical Inventory Listing
951
1 135
1 200
1 232
1 476
1 550
Material Balance Report
118
139
160
152
152
152
Concise Note
1 325
1 096
1 142
1 682
1 642
1 847
TOTAL
 3 207
2 866
2 909
3 905
3 758
4 138

Table 4 shows a summary of totals of nuclear material by category in Australia. Notable changes from previous year totals include a decrease in enriched uranium, depleted uranium and plutonium due to the transfer to United States of HIFAR spent fuel, and excess-to-requirements depleted uranium and plutonium-beryllium sources.

Table 4: Nuclear Material in Australia at 30 June 2009

Category Quantity Intended End-use
Source Material
Uranium Ore Concentrates (UOC) 692 tonnes Export for energy use pursuant to bilateral agreements
  6 tonnes Storage
Natural Uranium (other than UOC) 10 878 kg Research and shielding
Depleted Uranium 14 286 kg Research and shielding
Thorium Ore Residues 59 tonnes Storage/disposal
Thorium (other than Thorium Ore Residues) 1 977 kg Research, industry
Special Fissionable Material
235U 85 264 grams Research, radioisotope production
233U 4 grams Research
Plutonium (other than 238Pu) 1 245 grams Research, neutron sources
Nuclear Research and Development

ASNO ensured that all IAEA requirements were met during the reporting period with respect to formal reporting of nuclear R&D in Australia, and ensured that any developing technology remained in exclusively peaceful use and did not contribute to any proliferation activity.

Table 5: Associated Items in Australia at 30 June 2009 [12] [13] [14]

Category Quantity Intended End-use
Associated Material    
Deuterium and heavy water 48.3 tonnes Research, reactors
Nuclear grade graphite 113.87 tonnes HIFAR, Moata and storage
Associated Equipment    
Moata12 1 Reactor
HIFAR13 1 Reactor
HIFAR coarse control arms (unused) 5 Reactor components
HIFAR safety rods 3 Reactor components
HIFAR fuel charging and discharging machines 2 Reactor components
OPAL reactor14 1 Reactor
OPAL control rods 13 Reactor components
OPAL control rod drives 6 Reactor components
Silex equipment Enrichment R&D

Permits and Authorities System

ASNO continued to operate Australia’s State System of Accounting for and Control of Nuclear Material in accordance with Australia’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA and legislation. Administration of this system was carried out in a timely manner.

Table 6: Status of Safeguards Permits and Authorities at 30 June 2009

Permit or Authority Current Total Granted Varied Revoked Expired
Possess nuclear material
93
4
18
1
0
Possess associated items
15
0
1
0
0
Transport nuclear material
20
1
1
0
0
Transport associated items
0
0
0
0
0
Establish a facility
0
0
0
0
0
Decommission a facility
2
0
0
0
0
Communicate information contained in associated technology
11
0
0
0
0
TOTAL
141
5
20
1
0

Notice of all permit changes was published in the Commonwealth Gazette as required by the Safeguards Act (section 20(1)). Four permits were granted to organisations that possess nuclear material (depleted uranium shielding), while one permit was revoked as the permittee no longer possessed nuclear material. Most of the 18 variations to permits to possess nuclear material were permit extensions for industrial radiographers.

It is expected that permit applications will be sought before the end of 2009 from the Uranium-1/Mitsui joint venture to operate the Honeymoon uranium mine and mill in South Australia, and from the Quasar Resources/Alliance Resources joint venture to process material from the Four-mile mine at the nearby Beverley uranium mill.

ASNO Inspections

During the reporting period, ASNO carried out 36 domestic inspections to ensure that requirements of permits and authorities were being met. From these inspections, ASNO found no indication of unauthorised access to, or use of, nuclear materials or nuclear items.

Figure 5: Nuclear Inspections by ASNO, 2008–09, by type of permit holder

Figure 5: Nuclear Inspections by ASNO, 2008–09, by type of permit holder

Figure 6: Nuclear Inspections by ASNO, 2008–09, by effort for each type of permit holder

Figure 6: Nuclear Inspections by ASNO, 2008–09, by effort for each type of permit holder

IAEA Inspections

ASNO ensured that all of Australia’s obligations with respect to IAEA inspections were met. During the reporting period, the IAEA conducted four design information verification inspections, three routine nuclear material inventory verification inspections and a short notice inspection. The IAEA exercised its complementary access rights in accordance with the Additional Protocol on four occasions.

Table 7: IAEA Safeguards Inspections and Complementary Accesses, 2008–09

Date Facility Type
01–02 Dec 2008 OPAL reactor Short Notice Inventory Verification Inspection
02 Dec 2008 SSL Laboratories Complementary Access
03 Dec 2008 HIFAR Design Information Verification Inspection
03 Dec 2008 OPAL reactor (Bragg) Complementary Access
05 Dec 2008 Honeymoon mine Complementary Access
04–07 May 2009 Vault Storage

ANSTO’s R&D Laboratories

OPAL reactor
Routine Inventory Verification Inspection
Design Information Verification Inspection
11 May 2009 Ranger mine Complementary Access

The IAEA reported the outcomes of its safeguards inspections and complementary access in Australia, including comments on any inventory differences, in statements summarised in Appendix D. These statements confirm that all of Australia’s IAEA safeguards obligations were discharged satisfactorily and that relevant records had been maintained in accordance with prescribed practice.

During the reporting period, a number of small inventory differences were reported to the IAEA. While various re-measurements of batches, rounding, shipper/receiver differences, and correction of double-counted batches at various locations (e.g. hospitals and universities) gave rise to small inventory differences as summarised in Table 8, none arose at facilities at Lucas Heights.

Table 8: Inventory Differences Recorded during 2008–09

Material Balance Area
Difference between
Book and Physical Inventory
Comment
HIFAR (defuelled)

MOATA Reactor (defuelled)

ANSTO research laboratories

ANSTO vault storage

OPAL reactor

Silex laboratories
none
Book inventory equalled the Physical Inventory
Other locations
0.01 Kg Natural uranium
Rounding, re-measurement, and correcting double-counted batches.
 
0.54 Kg Depleted uranium
 
0.03 Kg Thorium
Seized material in Victoria and NSW

On 1 April 2009, during a drug raid on premises in Harcourt, Victoria, police discovered a small jar containing two samples of uranium. In a separate incident, on 30 April 2009, a NSW police drug raid on Sydney premises also uncovered a small jar containing uranium. Both uranium samples were provided to ANSTO for analysis. Initial findings confirmed the samples to be very small (less than 100 g) amounts of uranium compounds in natural and depleted forms. ANSTO is continuing to conduct an origin analysis of the samples. Both cases are still under investigation by the respective state police.

Output 1.2: Physical Protection

Protection of Australia’s nuclear facilities, nuclear material and nuclear items against unauthorised access and sabotage. Internationally agreed physical protection standards applied to Australian Obligated Nuclear Material overseas.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

International and Bilateral Obligations

ASNO’s inspections confirmed that current physical protection arrangements for nuclear material in Australia were implemented satisfactorily in 2008–09 in accordance with Australia’s obligations under the CPPNM, IAEA guidelines, relevant bilateral safeguards agreements and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation (Safeguards) Act 1987. ASNO also met Australia’s international shipment notification obligations under the CPPNM.

Domestic Security of Australian uranium

ASNO visited the Ranger and Olympic Dam mines during the reporting period and assessed as satisfactory the mines’ progress in implementing security upgrades in response to an earlier external review of the security of uranium production, storage and transport.

Exports of Australian uranium

Reporting by conversion facilities, safeguards authorities and shipping agencies confirmed that all AONM transferred from Australia safely reached its destination. The physical protection measures specified for these transfers effectively contributed to this outcome.

ASNO continued to require exporters to adopt and report on specific procedures to ensure appropriate levels of physical protection for UOC shipments from Australia to the port of unloading overseas. These procedures included checking of the physical condition of the containers and verifying the integrity of the containers and seals at each port of unloading or transhipment to detect any breaches of physical protection.

ASNO also directed specific risk mitigating measures, consistent with international codes, to protect Australian UOC exports and to mitigate the risk of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Few shipping services are available for Australian uranium miners to export UOC to Europe and frequently there is no alternative to using the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. To this end, ASNO consulted with the Office of Transport Security, Department of Defence, the Australian Maritime Security Authority and overseas counterparts to determine best-practice procedures that should be applied to shipments that may be subject to piracy risks.

Spent fuel shipment

In March 2009, ANSTO transferred the remainder of its spent fuel from the HIFAR reactor to the United States in a secure transport operation. ASNO approved the overall security plan for the operation and observed the NSW police-led transport from Lucas Heights to Port Kembla. ANSTO implemented a no-comment media strategy on the shipment, as required under contractual arrangements with the US Department of Energy. Future spent fuel shipments will consist of low enriched uranium only. The first of these shipments is not expected for several years.

Nuclear Security at Lucas Heights

In October 2008, ANSTO commissioned its upgraded security site control centre which will improve the useability and capability of the entire site security system. ASNO and ARPANSA are working with ANSTO on its plan to rationalise its site security within the current HIFAR protected area, given that the HIFAR reactor is shut down and all the spent fuel has been shipped overseas.

Photo - See caption below for description
Spent fuel from HIFAR being loaded into especially designed casks for shipment to the United States in March 2009.
Photo courtesy of ANSTO
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Strengthening the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material

In July 2005, a Diplomatic Conference on the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) adopted a detailed amendment to the Convention.[15] Australia, through ASNO, played a significant role in developing the amendment and securing international agreement to it. On 17 July 2008, Australia lodged its instrument of ratification to the amendment of the CPPNM with the Convention’s depositary, the 17th country to do so. At 30 June 2009, the Amendment had been ratified by 26 of the 141 parties to the Convention. The amendment to the CPPNM will come into force internationally after two-thirds of States Parties have ratified. While this may take some years, most of the new provisions already apply in Australia through implementation of the permit system under the Safeguards Act.

International Security Symposium

ASNO’s Assistant Secretary, Dr Geoffrey Shaw, presented a paper on Australia’s approach to ensuring security at uranium mines, at an IAEA Nuclear Security Symposium held in Vienna in April, which was attended by some 400 participants. The paper generated wide interest, particularly with respect to ensuring the nuclear security conduct of Australian uranium companies operating in Africa.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism—exercise “Blue Glow”

ASNO participated in the international working-level seminar entitled “Radiation Incidents: Avoidance, Surveillance and Response” and discussion exercise (DICEX “Blue Glow”). This seminar was organised under the framework of the United States and Russia-led Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and was held in Canberra on 7–8 May 2009. The seminar promoted the security and safety of radioactive materials and highlighted GICNT’s importance as a forum for promoting better control, regulation and protection of nuclear and radioactive materials.

Review of recommendations for nuclear security

As part of its responsibility to provide guidance to states in their efforts to implement international instruments (such as the CPPNM and the Nuclear Terrorism Convention), the IAEA is developing guidance documents in a Nuclear Security Series. This series will comprise several categories of documents namely: Nuclear Security Fundamentals containing objectives, concepts and principles of nuclear security and providing the basis for security recommendations; Recommendations presenting best practices that should be adopted by member states in the application of the Nuclear Security Fundamentals; and Implementing and Technical Guides providing further elaboration of the Recommendations in broad areas and suggesting measures for their implementation. Figure 7 below shows the four top-tier documents that will head the Nuclear Security Series.

Figure 7: Nuclear Security Series

Figure 7: Nuclear Security Series

One of the key documents, “Recommendations for physical protection of nuclear material and facilities”, will serve as Revision 5 of the internationally accepted IAEA document INFCIRC/225. INFCIRC/225 is referenced in most of Australia’s bilateral safeguards agreements and forms the cornerstone for nuclear security implementation in Australia. During the reporting period, ASNO’s Dr Stephan Bayer attended five working group meetings for the development of this document and the nuclear security series. ARPANSA has been involved with the development of recommendations for radioactive material and material out of regulatory control. It is planned to complete drafting the four top-tier documents by early 2010, after which they will be subject to a rigorous review process by the IAEA in conjunction with member states.

Output 1.3: Bilateral Safeguards

Nuclear material and associated items exported from Australia under bilateral agreements remain in exclusively peaceful use.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

Australian Obligated Nuclear Material

On the basis of reports from bilateral treaty partners, other information and analysis, ASNO concluded that all AONM is satisfactorily accounted for. The IAEA validated through its transit matching system that, as at 15 May 2009, there were no unconfirmed nuclear material shipments to or from Australia. Based on the IAEA’s Safeguards Statement for 2008, and ASNO’s analysis of reports and other information from counterparts on AONM located overseas, ASNO concludes that no AONM was used for non-peaceful purposes in 2008–09. A copy of the IAEA’s Safeguards Statement for 2008 is located in Appendix E.

Table 9: Summary of AONM by category, quantity and location at 31 December 2008[16] [17] [18] [19] [20]

Category Location Tonnes17
Depleted Uranium European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, United States 93,618
Natural Uranium Canada, European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, China, United States 21,979
Uranium in Enrichment Plants European Union, Japan, United States 19,976
Low Enriched Uranium18 Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United States 12,872
Irradiated Plutonium19 Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United States 120
Separated Plutonium20 European Union, Japan 1.4
TOTAL Provisional 148,566 

During the reporting period, Australia exported 10,114 tonnes[21] of UOC—U3O8 or U3O8 equivalent—in 69 shipments from the Ranger mine, Northern Territory, and the Olympic Dam and Beverley mines in South Australia. This corresponds to 8,577 tonnes of contained uranium.

Table 10: Supply of Australian uranium to customers during 2008—as delivered to customers’ converter accounts

Country
Tonnes UOC (U3O8)
% of Total
USA
4 381.25
45.3
Japan
2 280.68
23.6
France
1 015.41
10.5
ROK
387.22
4.0
Sweden
340.01
3.5
China
313.37
3.2
Canada
256.42
2.7
Taiwan
243.47
2.5
UK
170.97
1.8
Spain
106.98
1.1
Finland
91.83
1.0
Germany
75.71
0.8
Belgium
0
0.0
TOTAL
9 663.31
100.0

(Source: Uranium Industry Section, Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism)

Table 11: Summary of AONM Transfers, 2008[22] [23]

  Destination U (tonnes)
Conversion Canada
877
China
266
European Union 23
2 702
United States
4 754
Enrichment European Union
1 944
United States
522
United States
67
Fuel Fabrication Japan
117
Republic of Korea
116
United States
319
European Union
12
Reactor Irradiation United States
0.2

The shipper’s weight for each UOC consignment is entered on ASNO’s record of AONM. These weights, subject to amendment by measured Shipper/Receiver Differences, are the basic source data for ASNO’s system of accounting for AONM in the international nuclear fuel cycle. ASNO notified each export to the safeguards authorities in the relevant countries. In every case, those safeguards authorities confirmed to ASNO receipt of the shipment. ASNO also notified the IAEA of each export to non-nuclear-weapon states pursuant to Article 35(a) of Australia’s IAEA safeguards agreement as well as to NWS under the IAEA’s Voluntary Reporting Scheme. Receiving countries similarly reported receipts to the IAEA.

Bilateral Agreements

Reporting

Reports from ASNO’s counterpart organisations were mostly received in a timely fashion and in the agreed format, which enabled analysis and reconciliation with ASNO’s records. Figures provided in Table 10 and Table 11 are based on ASNO’s analysis of all available information at the time of publication.

The Year in Review section of this report describes key developments in relation to Australia’s bilateral nuclear safeguards matters with respect to the following agreements:

Australia/Russia Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

On 18 September 2008, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) tabled its report on the Australia/Russia nuclear cooperation agreement signed on 7 September 2007 by the then Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, and the head of Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), Mr Sergey Kiriyenko. This followed JSCOT hearings on 16 June, 28 July, 25 August, and 1 September 2008. JSCOT made 10 recommendations in its report in relation to safeguards, security and political matters. As of 30 June 2009, the Government was considering its response to JSCOT’s recommendations.

ASNO worked during the year with Rosatom on a Memorandum of Understanding for nuclear material accounting arrangements that would operate under the proposed nuclear cooperation agreement. This followed a productive three-day workshop, held in Canberra in December 2008, for Russian technical experts from Atomredmetzoloto, Rosatom, Tekhsnabexport, and JSC TVEL. During the workshop participants exchanged information on their respective nuclear accountancy and control systems.

Australia/US Cooperation Agreement

The current Australia/US nuclear cooperation agreement, which entered in force in January 1981, will expire in January 2011. ASNO and United States officials have had initial discussions on the scope for pursuing an extension. Formal negotiations will need to commence shortly to ensure an extension is ratified before the current agreement expires.

Australia/US Silex Agreement

Silex Systems Limited (SSL) has ceased laboratory work on uranium enrichment research in Australia but continues to support the development of SILEX technology in the United States, mainly through laser development. As some of this cooperation involves classified associated technology subject to the agreement, ASNO continued to liaise with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials on the secure storage and transfer of sensitive classified information. GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE)—a business venture of GE, Hitachi Ltd. and Cameco—on 30 June 2009, submitted its license application to the NRC. GLE plans to build the commercial uranium-enrichment facility, based on SILEX technology, near Wilmington, North Carolina. GLE currently is in the pre-deployment stage of its enrichment “test loop,” which is designed to confirm the commercial feasibility of the technology.

Multilateral meeting on nuclear safeguards agreements

In November 2008, ASNO hosted officials from the United States, Canada and Euratom in a meeting to discuss bilateral safeguards arrangements, in particular to develop a “document of common understandings” with regard to the administration of obligation accounting and transfers of nuclear and non-nuclear material, equipment, components or technology pursuant to bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements. The document describes the content of “administrative arrangements” that outline the practical operation of nuclear safeguards agreements. It is planned to complete this document before the end of 2009.

Output 1.4: International Safeguards and Non-Proliferation

Contribution to the development and effective implementation of international safeguards and the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

Strengthening International Safeguards

ASNO took an active part in the development and effective implementation of international safeguards during the reporting period. ASNO remained actively engaged with the IAEA at both management and operational levels, and participated in the Australian delegation to the IAEA Board of Governors meeting in September 2008 and the 2008 IAEA General Conference. As a result, ASNO continued to be well informed of developments and emerging problems in safeguards. This active engagement with the IAEA ensured that ASNO’s work program remained relevant to the international non-proliferation agenda.

ASNO assessed that the IAEA safeguards system effectively fulfilled its task of verifying the non-diversion of significant quantities of nuclear material subject to IAEA safeguards. The IAEA has noted that inadequately developed State Systems of Accountancy and Control (SSAC) in some states is an ongoing safeguards implementation issue—ASNO has sought to address this important issue by working with regional and international counterparts to develop the skills-levels of regional safeguards authorities through training and support.

Contribution to DFAT policy development and diplomatic activity

A number of major safeguards issues arose during the year, and ASNO has been well-placed to contribute to policy development and diplomatic activities by providing analysis and advice.

ASNO has a close and supportive working relationship with the Australian Mission in Vienna, particularly with the Australian Ambassador in the role of Australian Governor on the IAEA Board of Governors. ASNO plays a major role in providing the Mission with timely and comprehensive advice on IAEA reports and briefing materials. ASNO analyses are frequently shared with the IAEA Secretariat and with likeminded governments in Vienna and other key capitals.

Issues dealt with by ASNO included:

IAEA Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation

SAGSI is the international group of experts appointed by and advising the IAEA Director General on safeguards issues. ASNO’s Dr Annette Berriman has been a member of SAGSI since 2007.

During the year, SAGSI completed its consideration of the role of and potential for cooperation between the IAEA Secretariat and State Systems of Accounting for and Control of nuclear material (SSACs). This consideration looked, inter alia, at IAEA guidance for SSACs, opportunities for exchange of SSAC good practices, state/IAEA two-way communication and feedback and the role of SSACs in any nuclear renaissance.

Other topics examined by SAGSI during the year included:

Australian Safeguards Support Program

The resources available to the IAEA are not sufficient to allow all necessary safeguards R&D programs to be conducted “in-house”. Safeguards are an evolving discipline and the ASSP—Australian Safeguards Support Program—assists the IAEA develop the concepts, equipment and procedures needed to meet new challenges in a cost-effective way. The ASSP comprises collaborative work with ASNO, ASNO’s counterparts and expert groups on a number of safeguards projects formally agreed with the IAEA. ASNO is the national manager for the ASSP, coordinating activities with other Australian agencies as well as undertaking several tasks internally. These projects are outlined below.

Re-Examination of Basic Safeguards Implementation Parameters

ASNO is in discussion with the IAEA about the next assignment to be undertaken under this important and long-standing task. Historically projects under this task have made a significant contribution to the effectiveness of safeguards and they have also represented major professional development exercises for ASNO staff.

Support for Information Review and Evaluation

ASNO has worked with the IAEA’s Division of Safeguards Information Management (SGIM) to improve access to open source information on nuclear activities and developments.

Design information review and evaluation for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR)

In September 2005, ASNO accepted a task to evaluate the methods that could be used by the IAEA to verify the design information of the South African designed PBMR. Delays in the project have been explained in previous annual reports. No progress was made on the project during the reporting period. ANSTO has indicated that it is able to assist ASNO with the project in the coming year but the IAEA has placed this project on hold pending completion of a redesign of the project by the South African principals.

Analytical Services for Environmental Sampling

Environmental sampling is an important safeguards measure that enhances the IAEA’s capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. Work on this important project by ANSTO is ongoing.

Experimental investigation of Behaviour of Trace Elements in Uranium during the concentration and conversion processes

In 2008, ANSTO agreed to take on a new support program task relating to the way in which trace element concentrations change as material enters the front end of the fuel cycle. This project is expected to take up to three years. The IAEA hopes this work will contribute substantively to efforts to determine the origin of material that is found during inspection activities (“nuclear forensics”—tracing materials back to their points of origin).

Use of Multi-sensor Data for Monitoring and Detecting Signatures Relevant to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

During 2008, the Department of Defence made a senior analyst available for an IAEA meeting held in Paris. The purpose of the meeting was for the IAEA to gather information on available imagery-based techniques that could be used to identify signatures relevant to particular steps in the nuclear fuel cycle and then determine whether it would be possible to incorporate the use of these signatures into IAEA verification activities. Defence made a substantive contribution to the success of the Paris meeting and the contribution was greatly appreciated by the IAEA.

As a follow-up to the Paris meeting, Defence provided the IAEA with a short paper on the use of commercial radar imagery for verification purposes. In addition, the Defence analyst was able to provide direct assistance to IAEA imagery analysts during the proliferation analysis training course that is noted below.

Updates to fuel cycle manuals

In 2008, the IAEA proposed a task related to updating elements of the basic fuel cycle training manuals used in the training of IAEA inspectors. The IAEA requested Australian help with the preparation of a new manual relating to the mining and milling of uranium. ASNO has provided the IAEA an initial draft of material that could be used to produce the manuals.

The IAEA is currently assessing the material to ensure that it reflects current mining practices. ASNO hopes to produce a new draft on the basis of IAEA feedback in the next reporting period.

New Australian Safeguards Support Program task in the reporting period

Proliferation Analysis Workshop

A Proliferation Analysis Workshop was conducted by the Australian Safeguards Support Program (ASSP) from 18 to 22 May 2009 in Vienna. The workshop participants were drawn from the Information Collection and Analysis Section (ICA) of IAEA/SGIM. The Australian team consisted of two analysts from the Department of Defence, one from the Office of National Assessments and one from ASNO. The Australian Permanent Mission to the IAEA provided active support and assistance for the running of the workshop.

The focus of the workshop was on "tradecraft" for proliferation analysis. Participants explored not just analytical tools available but also the techniques for combining information from disparate sources to provide an overall picture of the objects of study.

The IAEA has requested that Australia consider making workshops of this type an ongoing support program contribution (possibly annually). The intention is to extend the program to include inspectors from the IAEA’s safeguards operations divisions. The IAEA expects that workshops will enhance the analytical culture, information exchange and capabilities both in SGIM and operations divisions.

Cooperation with other States Parties

ASNO actively strengthened contacts with other safeguards agencies and international safeguards practitioners, including from China, Indonesia, Japan, ROK, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States.

ASNO staff presented papers at the July 2008 Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM) Annual Meeting in Nashville in the United States, at the October 2008 Tokyo INMM/ESARDA[24] safeguards workshop and at an international nuclear non-proliferation seminar at University of California, Berkeley, in June 2009.

Photo - See caption below for description
Spent fuel from HIFAR being loaded into especially designed casks for shipment to the United States in March 2009.
Photo courtesy of ANSTO
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

During the reporting period the US National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) launched the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI). The aim of the NSGI is to work with international partners to improve the human resources available to the IAEA and revitalise safeguards technology. ASNO is working with the United States and other states to develop this initiative.

International Outreach

ASNO continued its international outreach activities to assist countries in the region with the fulfilment of their non-proliferation and physical protection obligations. Training has been provided to 134 professionals in 9 countries in the Asia-Pacific region over the past 12 months. All of this work was well received and led to requests for further assistance.

Key contributions included:

 

Photo - See caption below for description
ASNO Assistant Secretary, Dr Geoffrey Shaw (third from right), participates in the expert panel discussion..
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Training Course on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Research Reactors

From 15–26 June 2009, ASNO conducted a successful IAEA regional training course in Sydney on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Research Reactors. The course was funded by ASNO and the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund (to which Australia contributes). This course is part of Australia’s significant contribution to international efforts to establish more effective and efficient national and nuclear facility level security systems, improve training for nuclear security personnel, and to enhance management and supervision of nuclear security activities.

The course focused on the security of nuclear research facilities and the protection of nuclear materials from theft, sabotage and terrorism. The course covered defining the threat, analysing possible consequences, defining possible terrorist targets, development of a regulatory framework, risk analysis, designing a physical protection system, detection, delay and response components, and system evaluation and redesign. The course was solely focused on physical protection subjects and did not cover nuclear technology or other proliferation-sensitive subjects.

Photo - See caption below for description
Participants, lecturers and observers at the Sydney course.
Photo courtesy of Richard Gregorio Photography
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

During the course, there was much discussion on the use of various security elements such as fences and gates, surveillance equipment and intruder detectors, and guard and response forces. More importantly, participants learned how these elements could be combined to implement effective multi-layered security systems that could detect adversaries and respond in time to protect nuclear material and facilities against criminal and terrorist actions.

Twenty-four nuclear regulatory and facility officials from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Australia participated in the two-week course together with lecturers from Australia (ASNO, ANSTO, ARPANSA), Germany, India, the United States and the IAEA.

Along with lectures and group discussions, the participants toured ANSTO’s facilities at Lucas Heights in Sydney and undertook sub-group exercises on how to identify and deal with threats at nuclear facilities. Participants found the course highly useful and were confident of their ability to apply the new knowledge and skills acquired to their work.

Output 1.5: CWC Implementation

Regulation and reporting of Australian chemical activities in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention, and strengthening international implementation of the Convention.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessments

Meeting CWC Obligations

ASNO maintained Australia’s strong record of performance in meeting its CWC obligations. Accurate and timely annual declarations and notifications were provided to the OPCW as follows:

Photo - See caption below for description
DSTO and ASNO representatives with the OPCW Inspection Team during a routine industry inspection at DSTO in Victoria.
Photo courtesy of DSTO.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The OPCW has conducted 31 Article VI routine facility inspections to verify declarations, since 1997. Six of these inspections occurred during the reporting period. Four inspections were undertaken at facilities producing discrete organic chemicals (two were sequential inspections). One inspection was a subsequent inspection at a Schedule 3 production facility and another inspection occurred at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Melbourne, which is the operator of Australia’s only Schedule 1 facility for protective purposes. All inspections proceeded smoothly and the OPCW Inspection Team verified relevant declarations as well as the absence of undeclared CWC-Scheduled chemical production, in accordance with the inspection mandates. ASNO facilitated these inspections and appreciated the support and cooperation by industry and government stakeholders.

Legislation and Regulation

The permit systems under the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994 and Regulation 5J of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956, continued to operate well. Table 12 provides statistics for permits issued as of 30 June 2009 and permit activities during the reporting period.

Table 12: Permits for CWC-Scheduled Chemical Facilities and Importers

CWC-Scheduled Chemicals CW(P) Act 1994 Type
Permits at 30 June 2009
New Permits issued 2008–09
Re-Issued Permits 2008–09
Permits not re-Issued 2008–09
Import Permits 2008–09
Schedule 1 s19(4) Production (Protective)
1
1
2
  s19(5) Production (Research)
9
2
3
  s19(6) Consumption
7
3
3
Schedule 2 s18(1) Processing
10
3
57
  s18(1) Consumption
1
Schedule 3 s18(1) Production
3

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) consulted with ASNO regarding chemicals listed under the post import permit scheme (PIPS) established under the Customs Amendment (Strengthening Border Controls) Act 2008. That Act and the PIPS came into effect on 12 January 2009. In addition, ASNO assisted Customs to finalise minor amendments to Regulation 5J of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. These amendments, approved by the Governor-General on 13 March 2009, enable the Director General ASNO, as a statutory office holder, to be an authorised person for issuing import permits for CWC-Scheduled chemicals, in addition to the Assistant Secretary, ASNO.

Cooperation with the OPCW and CWC States Parties

ASNO continued to provide input to discussions at the OPCW regarding technical aspects of the CWC’s declaration and verification provisions that were not fully defined at entry-into-force. ASNO has worked to make verification as practical and effective as possible, taking into account risk-benefit considerations.

ASNO has provided ongoing technical advice to Australia’s representatives to the OPCW, who have been actively involved in consultations on enhancing the site selection methodology for other chemical production facilities (OCPFs) and the establishment of low concentration thresholds for declarations of Schedule 2A/2A* chemicals. Australia participated in an Italian-hosted workshop in Florence from 25–26 September 2008 which aimed to harmonise the positions of developed countries on these two outstanding industry cluster issues. Outcomes included support for the OPCW Director-General’s proposal to increase the number of OCPF inspections in 2009. While there was no resolution on low concentration thresholds, with proposed thresholds ranging from 0.5% to 10%, the workshop allowed an exchange of views and prepared the way for an OPCW facilitation to recommence consideration of this matter.

Improving the coverage of OCPF inspections goes to the heart of the non-proliferation goals of the CWC. Currently approximately 12% of those declared to the OPCW (and where the annual production quantities exceed the verification threshold) have been inspected. The range of views on the quantum of increase in the numbers of OCPF inspections for 2009 caused delays in the Executive Council’s agreement of the draft 2009 Programme and Budget. The slight increase (from 118 to 126) was finally agreed at a non-regular session of the Executive Council in the margins of the Conference.

Australia also worked closely with the Australian chemical industry and other States Parties during industry consultations at the OPCW on proposals to enhance the declaration template for OCPFs and thereby improve the OCPF site selection methodology. More information about OCPFs is given in the article on this subject in Current Topics (page 34).

Dr Geoffrey Shaw, Assistant Secretary, ASNO, represented Australia at an international workshop co-sponsored by the OPCW, on “The CWC and the BWC and their Contribution to the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction” held from 4-5 April 2009 in Cavtat, Dubrovnik, Croatia. The workshop, which was open to industry, academic and government representatives, examined the symbiotic relationship between the international treaties on chemical and biological weapons and their relevance to United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1540.

Photo - See caption below for description
During a technical assistance visit to Australia, OPCW officials confirmed the discovery of
267 old empty WWII chemical munitions and approved the destruction plan.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Dr Shaw visited The Hague on 24 September 2008 for an intensive program of meetings with senior OPCW officials, including the Deputy Director-General, Dr John Freeman. Issues covered included chemical weapons demilitarisation, verification (including sampling and analysis), assistance and protection, chemical terrorism, and old chemical weapons discoveries in Australia. Further, Australian experts from ASNO and DSTO attended the following meetings held in The Hague: the 10th Annual Meeting of CWC National Authorities; the EU-Sponsored National Authority day; and the 13th Conference of the States Parties (2–5 December 2008).

Australia worked to enhance the OPCW’s role in reducing the threat of, and in preparing to respond to, chemical terrorism, including by contributing to discussions in the OPCW’s Open-Ended Working Group on Terrorism (OEWGT). Australia’s engagement in this area was duly recognised in July 2009, when Australia’s Deputy Head of Mission in The Hague was appointed as the new Facilitator of the OEWGT by the Executive Council.

In the period between February and May 2009, civilian contractors discovered 267 empty and heavily corroded World War II chemical munitions (British designed, light-cased Mk1 250lb bombs), during remediation of Defence land at Marrangaroo, NSW. Previous finds at this site have been discovered in recent years and declared to the OPCW. At Australia’s invitation, OPCW representatives visited the Marrangaroo site on 19 May to confirm the find and to approve the proposed destruction method. Testing of any residual liquid inside the munitions (suspected of being sand and ground water) showed no evidence of any chemical warfare agent fill. The visit was arranged as a transparency measure to demonstrate Australia’s compliance with the CWC, made possible by Defence support.

Photo - See caption below for description
Representatives from ASNO, the OPCW and Defence at the entrance to the Marrangaroo tunnel where OCW were stored during WWII. Photo courtesy of the Department of Defence
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

With OPCW Director-General (DG), Ambassador Rogelio Pfirter’s second term as DG due to expire in July 2010, consultations on the appointment of his successor commenced in early 2009. In response to proposals by some States Parties for the use of geographical rotation in the appointment of the new DG, Australia submitted a national paper at the 56th Session of the Executive Council (EC-56/NAT.1, 23 April 2009) which argued against such a process on the basis that it would create a significant impediment to ensuring that “the best qualified candidate” was able to be selected for the position. The paper was influential in preserving the right of all States Parties to nominate candidates to fill the DG position.[25]

International Outreach

Australia has also taken a lead in promoting chemical safety and security in the Asia-Pacific region for the purpose of countering chemical terrorism by hosting an “Asia-Pacific Seminar on Chemical Safety and Security to Counter Terrorism” which was held in Canberra from 10–12 June 2009. The OPCW’s Director of Special Projects, Mr Krzysztof Paturej, attended as a keynote speaker.

The Seminar, jointly hosted by DFAT and the Australian Academy of Science, was attended by 112 participants from Australia and eight regional countries, as well as presenters from the OPCW, the United States, Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines. ASNO delivered a presentation explaining the relevance of the CWC to raising barriers against chemical terrorism.

Photo - See caption below for description
Participants at the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Chemical Safety and Security to Counter Terrorism, Canberra, 10–12 June 2009.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The Seminar was structured into a number of themes ranging from the chemical security threat, managing a chemical attack (discussion exercise) and measures to strengthen chemical security, building on measures which already address chemical safety.

ASNO continued to exchange chemical trade data regarding CWC-Scheduled chemicals with key trading countries to improve the quality and accuracy of their respective declarations to the OPCW. ASNO also met with visiting officials from New Zealand in October 2008 and shared lessons learned from Australia’s experience in implementing the CWC.

Domestic Outreach

ASNO undertook extensive consultation and outreach across Australia visiting more than 50 facilities to strengthen collaboration with industry. This involved on-site visits to relevant facilities, traders, industry associations and laboratories. The outreach program focused on promoting greater awareness of the CWC, regulatory obligations and preparing industrial sites for possible OPCW inspections. For more information refer to the article at the end of this section.

Photo - See caption below for description
Representatives from the OPCW, ASNO and a chemical facility during an on-site routine inspection in NSW
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

During the outreach program, ASNO took the opportunity to raise industry awareness about the establishment of the Chemical Security Branch in the Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department. ASNO provided an overview of the Council of Australian Government initiatives that led to an agreed Chemical Management Security Framework that outlines the approach of Australian governments to preventing the use of chemicals for terrorist purposes. Industry expressed interest in the National Industry Reference Group which provides expert advice on the implementation of the Framework. ASNO attends relevant meetings of the National Government Advisory Group with other Australian Government, State and Territory representatives.

Additionally, ASNO distributed the latest version of the OPCW’s Central Analytical Database (OCAD v.11_2008) to assist counter-terrorism and research laboratories in the spectral identification of chemical warfare agents and their precursor chemicals. During visits to these laboratories, ASNO highlighted the Security Sensitive Biological Agents (SSBA) regulatory scheme implemented by the Department of Health and Ageing to improve the security of biological agents of security concern in Australia. The SSBA scheme includes ricin which is also regulated by ASNO as it is listed under the CWC (Schedule 1) and subject to provisions under the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994. The SSBA scheme builds on Australia’s obligations under the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention and UNSCR 1540.

ASNO continued to monitor Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) chemical trade data and liaised with Customs to reduce the occurrence of misclassified chemicals. Customs has taken measures to address this issue by ensuring that correct codes are applied to chemical trade. Such measures help detect unauthorised trade and improve the accuracy of trade statistics for CWC-Scheduled chemicals published by the ABS.

As part of outreach efforts to ensure traders of CWC-Scheduled chemicals apply the correct tariff and Australian Harmonised Export Commodity Classification codes, ASNO updated and distributed copies of its industry brochures and a CD for chemical traders. Copies of these publications are available on request or from ASNO’s website (www.dfat.gov.au/cwco).

Photo - See caption below for description
Facility and ASNO representatives with the OPCW Inspection Team during a routine industry inspection in Western Australia
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Domestic Outreach Program 2009

Cooperation between government and industry is critical to effective implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). For this reason, ASNO conducted an extensive industry outreach program during the period 4 May to 26 June 2009, involving on-site visits and the distribution of relevant publications (from ASNO, Defence Export Control Office, and DFAT) to facilities affected by the CWC in Australia. The program promoted greater awareness of the CWC, trade controls and related legislative requirements, and highlighted the importance of adequate chemical security controls on CWC-Scheduled chemicals.

Fifty facilities from the chemical industry, research and trade sectors, as well as the Advocate for the Consumer, Cosmetic, Hygiene and Specialty Products Industry, received on-site visits by ASNO representatives as part of the outreach program. In response to an invitation by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS), ASNO (Dr Josy Meyer) also addressed NICNAS meetings of chemical industry representatives in Melbourne (22 May) and Sydney (29 May), respectively.

In addition to the main aims outlined above, the outreach program also enabled ASNO to verify and clarify reportable activities under Australia's permit and notification systems and to identify possible new facilities which may be declarable to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Discussions included legislative requirements for producers, users, importers and exporters of CWC-Scheduled chemicals.

The visits were especially designed to help relevant facilities prepare for receiving short-notice routine inspections by the OPCW. This included plants processing Schedule 2 chemicals and other chemical production facilities (OCPFs), the catch-all category of facilities that produce discrete organic chemicals. More than 4,600 OCPFs have been declared worldwide making this the largest industrial sector affected by the CWC. ASNO explained the significance of OCPFs to the CWC, in that their potential plant capability to manufacture chemical warfare agents or their precursor chemicals was of more relevance than the nature of the chemicals produced. ASNO also sought industry views on proposed changes to the declaration template for OCPFs, which are currently being discussed under the industry cluster meetings within the OPCW in The Hague.

A number of Commonwealth, State and Territory laboratories dealing with very small amounts of Schedule 1 chemicals (chemical warfare agents) for peaceful purposes (including counter-terrorism purposes) were informed about potential legislative obligations. Discussions on proposed amendments to the Chemical Weapons (Prohibition) Act 1994, aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on these low-risk facilities and first responders, were constructive. 

The outreach program was well received by stakeholders, was useful for domestic regulatory purposes and assists Australia to better meet its declaration and inspection obligations under the CWC.

 

Output 1.6: CTBT Implementation

Development of verification systems and arrangements in support of Australia’s commitments related to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

International Obligations

Of the 21 facilities that Australia will host for the CTBT International Monitoring System (IMS), 17 are in place and certified as operating to CTBTO technical specifications. A list of Australia’s IMS facilities and their status is at Appendix F.

Specific advances during 2008–09 in relation to Australian hosted IMS stations included:

Installation of the final Australian IMS stations requires planning and preparations over several years, as they will be in remote locations—including Antarctica. The cost of installing these stations is also higher due to their locations. The CTBTO, which funds this work, has deferred establishment of many remote stations due to cost. It is likely, however, that the Australian projects will proceed over the next few years. Australia has consistently indicated its readiness to proceed as soon as the CTBTO Preparatory Commission is able.

Legal and Administrative Measures

ASNO continues to fund Geoscience Australia to carry out nuclear test monitoring through its network of seismic stations. This arrangement, set out in a Letter of Understanding between Geoscience Australia and DFAT, has been administered by ASNO on behalf of DFAT since 1 July 2000. ASNO is satisfied that Geoscience Australia has met its requirements under the Letter of Understanding during the reporting period. ASNO and Geoscience Australia also reviewed the arrangement during the reporting year. It was found that the arrangement remains adequate for Australia’s requirements prior to entry into force of the CTBT, but that operation of a National Data Centre (NDC) to verify an in-force CTBT will require additional activities. ASNO and Geoscience Australia agreed to begin a review of NDC requirements in 2009–10.

As well as use for Treaty verification, data from the CTBT’s monitoring system have the potential to contribute to civil and scientific purposes. Following the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, the CTBTO, Australia and other states recognised the contribution of data from the IMS could make to the early detection of seismic events which could trigger a tsunami. In 2005, “test” arrangements were agreed for the release of selected IMS data to tsunami warning organisations, including the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC). During the reporting period, ASNO and Geoscience Australia finalised negotiations of a long-term Arrangement for release of IMS data to the JATWC by the CTBTO. The Arrangement allows the provision of primary seismic, auxiliary seismic and hydroacoustic data to the JATWC.

Photo - See caption below for description
Workshop on The Comprehensive Nuclear-test-Ban Treaty: Towards Indonesia’s Ratification, Jakarta, 10 November 2008.
Photo courtesy of Department of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

Nuclear Test Ban Verification

On 25 May 2009, the DPRK announced that it had conducted a nuclear test. Seismic waves from the test were detected by global nuclear test monitoring infrastructure, including in Australia. Analysis indicates that an explosion with a yield of one to 4.6 kilotons took place at the DPRK’s P’ungyee nuclear test site. Even before the DPRK made its public announcement, analysis of the seismic event was already underway, offering a strong demonstration of the ability of the CTBT’s IMS to detect a relatively small nuclear explosion without difficulty. Analysis of signals from the seismic monitoring array at Warramunga in the Northern Territory provided Australian agencies with the first indication of the event. This test is discussed further in the separate article in this report.

While more than 80% of CTBT IMS stations are now in place, further preparatory work is needed to bring the treaty’s verification to a good level of readiness. ASNO continues to contribute to the verification work of the CTBTO in conjunction with Australia’s permanent Mission in Vienna, and with technical specialists from Geoscience Australia and ARPANSA.

When the CTBT enters into force, it will provide for on-site inspections (OSI) to determine whether a nuclear explosion has taken place in a particular area. ASNO’s Mr Malcolm Coxhead, as the Task Leader for the elaboration of an Operational Manual on the conduct of OSI, continued to chair discussions on this subject at the CTBTO Preparatory Commission's technical working group. Work on the Operational Manual paused for much of 2008, but began again in February 2009 with about seven days of meetings. The working group approved a consolidated Model Text for the manual as a basis for its efforts to finalise the document. Adoption of the Model Text represents a valuable advance in work on the manual. Future discussions will address lessons from the conduct of a major field trial of OSI in 2008 (see below), and resolution of key issues where consensus has not yet been reached.

A major test of the CTBT’s OSI capability was conducted in 2008 at the former Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan. Australian experts, including Mr Malcolm Coxhead, participated in planning for and conduct of the exercise, and review of lessons from it. The exercise demonstrated the potential for the CTBT’s OSI mechanism to be effective, but highlighted a number of areas where additional preparatory work is needed—especially as an OSI would have to be launched at very short notice.

During the year, ASNO coordinated Australia’s contribution to the CTBTO’s International Scientific Studies (ISS) project, which aims to assess and improve CTBT verification. ASNO and Geoscience Australia produced academic papers for a conference in Vienna in June 2009. ASNO also worked closely with Mr Richard Starr (formerly Australia’s Ambassador for Disarmament), who participated as an official at the conference—to draw together discussions on the OSI element of the verification system.

Consistent with principles set out in the CTBT, activities associated with the development of CTBT verification are funded primarily from the contributions of States Signatories. This includes training of people involved with the work of the Treaty. ASNO coordinates the involvement of Australians in this training. During the year, one Australian participated in these activities.

Outreach

ASNO contributed to efforts during the year to promote engagement in, and support for, the CTBT by regional countries, including:

Output 1.7: Other Non-Proliferation Regimes

Contribution to the development and strengthening of other weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation regimes.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

Nuclear Suppliers Group

ASNO made a substantial contribution to the NSG through providing briefing materials and technical papers in support of Australia’s delegations, and through consultations with international counterparts. A particular focus was the development of strengthened criteria for the transfer of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle technology. The NSG’s consideration of this subject is ongoing.

Disarmament Verification

New mechanisms will be needed to verify future nuclear disarmament steps. The United Kingdom has been working for some years to develop such verification measures, most recently in collaboration with Norway. Australia can make a practical contribution to future disarmament steps by working with others to develop verification concepts and tools. In November 2008, ASNO hosted a workshop in Canberra with UK experts to review current developments in disarmament verification, and to consider how Australia can add to this work. Several projects in which Australia could engage were identified.

Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty

On 9 May 2009, the Conference on Disarmament agreed to proceed with negotiation of a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), a treaty that will prohibit the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. A key component of the FMCT negotiations will be the technical challenges associated with verification. ASNO is recognised internationally as a leading thinker on verification aspects of the FMCT. ASNO has recently prepared and circulated a non-paper on how verification could work under the treaty. The utility of this non-paper has been recognised by a number of countries as a useful articulation of the key issues that will need to be addressed during negotiations.

International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND)

DG ASNO is a member of the Advisory Board to ICNND. He participated in the Commission’s plenary meetings in Sydney (October 2008), Washington (February 2009) and Moscow (June 2009), and in a meeting between the ICNND secretariat and international industry representatives at the World Nuclear Association conference in Sydney in April 2009. The latter meeting discussed implications for industry of steps to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, including possible multilateralisation of enrichment and reprocessing programs, and long-term fuel supply assurances to dissuade states from pursuing further national enrichment and reprocessing projects.

DG ASNO prepared briefing papers for the Commission on the nuclear fuel cycle, the world nuclear industry, proliferation resistance, the IAEA additional protocol, safeguards consequences of withdrawal from the NPT, the FMCT, and future verification challenges.

Output 1.8: Advice to Government

Provision of high quality, timely, relevant and professional advice to Government.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

ASNO has specialist knowledge in complex policy and technical areas dealing with nuclear non-proliferation, and has substantial experience in: verification methods; domestic, bilateral and international safeguards; nuclear technology and the nuclear fuel cycle; nuclear security; and CWC and CTBT verification issues. ASNO draws on this expertise and an international network of contacts in agencies and organisations to provide high quality technical and policy advice to the Government and other bodies. ASNO provides the Government with advice on nuclear non-proliferation safeguards, from both international and domestic perspectives, together with expert advice across the range of WMD technologies.

During the year, ASNO provided advice and analysis on a range of developments in the nuclear fuel cycle and sensitive nuclear technology. ASNO also analysed and reported on nuclear programs of concern, particularly in Iran, Syria and the DPRK. ASNO provided analysis and contextual comments on the IAEA’s annual Safeguards Implementation Report (SIR) in support of Australia’s permanent mission in Vienna and the Government more broadly. Another area of work was the provision of advice on aspects of India’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA. ASNO prepared incoming Government briefs and contributed input into similar DFAT briefing. ASNO prepared approximately 64 ministerial submissions and provided submissions and oral briefings for Ministers, departments and Parliament on specific issues, including to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) hearings on the nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia and on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament treaties. Stakeholders acknowledged that briefings were valued and timely.

Further, ASNO provided advice to assist Government efforts to address the threat of chemical terrorism, including an intensive on-site industry outreach program and publications to raise awareness and provide guidance to chemical companies, research institutions, analytical laboratories and chemical traders in regard to obligations under the CWC and chemical counter-terrorism measures.

ASNO provided special briefing materials and additional assistance to both the Australian Mission to the IAEA in Vienna and the Australian Mission to the OPCW in The Hague, as well as to Australian missions elsewhere, particularly in Washington, Geneva, London, Moscow, and Beijing.

ASNO has worked closely with other departments on issues covering the proposed Olympic Dam expansion and issues related to piracy in the Gulf of Aden. In addition, ASNO participates in the transport working group of the Uranium Industry Framework (UIF), a Government-industry forum coordinated by the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, designed to assist in the development of a sustainable, safe, secure, socially and environmentally responsible uranium industry. UIF’s membership includes Government departments, the uranium mining and exploration industry, and indigenous land councils. The goal of the transport working group is to address impediments to transport of uranium, both domestically and internationally.

Output 2.1: Public Information

Provision of public information on the development, implementation and regulation of weapons of mass destruction non-proliferation regimes, and Australia’s role in these activities.

Performance Measures

Performance Assessment

ASNO has worked to ensure Australia’s WMD non-proliferation objectives are widely understood. This has involved extensive liaison with industry, tertiary institutions and non-governmental institutions.

During the year, ASNO made submissions to, and appeared before, two JSCOT hearings dealing with the Russia nuclear cooperation agreement and the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament treaties. ASNO also promoted understanding of non-proliferation obligations and objectives in the science and academic community, including through making presentations at various national and international fora.

On 21 April 2009, ASNO participated in a uranium stewardship dialogue in Sydney, hosted by the World Nuclear Association and the Australian Uranium Association. The dialogue was attended by a number of representatives from the uranium mining industry, environmental and ethical business consultants, indigenous representatives and non-government organisations. The dialogue discussed how the industry can work cooperatively to ensure that the management of uranium mining, export and use is done in a safe, environmentally and socially responsible way, and how to communicate this to the public and other stakeholders.

ASNO continued its series of seminars on non-proliferation relevant technologies during the reporting period. The aim of the seminars is to provide clear, understandable and accurate information on concepts relevant to officials involved in Australia’s broader non-proliferation and counter-proliferation efforts.

ASNO conducted an intensive on-site CWC industry outreach program to ensure compliance with statutory obligations, following on from the chemical industry survey reported last financial year, to raise awareness of the CWC in Australia.

ASNO coordinated and contributed Australian input to an international conference on CTBT verification in June 2009.

ASNO has an active program of preparing papers and presentations for conferences, professional journals, etc. These are available on ASNO’s website.

ASNO’s website, www.asno.dfat.gov.au, contains a large amount of information on Australia’s non-proliferation policies, treaty and statutory obligations and safeguards agreements as well as notification and permit application forms.

 

[12] The ANSTO Board decided to cease operation of Moata in February 1995. The reactor was de-fuelled in May 1995. It is now awaiting decommissioning.

[13] The ANSTO Board decided to cease operation of HIFAR In January 2007. The reactor was de-fuelled by May 2007. It is now awaiting decommissioning.

[14] Includes, inter alia, the reactor reflector vessel and core grid.

[15] See ASNO Annual Report 2006–07 p 13.

[16] Figures are based on yearly reports to ASNO in accordance with Australia’s bilateral agreements and other information held by ASNO.

[17] All quantities are given as tonnes weight of the element uranium, plutonium or thorium. The isotope weight of 235U is 0.711% of the element weight for natural uranium and from 1 to 5% for low enriched uranium.

[18] An estimated 80–90% of Australian obligated low enriched uranium is in the form of spent reactor fuel.

[19] Almost all Australian-obligated plutonium is irradiated, i.e. contained in irradiated power reactor fuel or plutonium reloaded in a power reactor following reprocessing.

[20] Separated plutonium is plutonium recovered from reprocessing, before return to reactors for re-use in reactors for further power generation. This plutonium is used for reactor fuel after being mixed with uranium—termed mixed oxide (MOX) fuel. A significant proportion of Australian obligated separated plutonium is stored as MOX. Separated plutonium holdings fluctuate as plutonium is fabricated as MOX fuel and returned to reactors. On return to reactors the plutonium returns to the “irradiated plutonium” category. During 2008 no Australian-obligated plutonium was fabricated into MOX fuel and transferred to reactors.

[21] It should be noted that this figure is for the financial year 2008–09, so is different to the quantity received by end-users (see Table 10) which is for the calendar year 2008.

[22] Figures are for transfers completed between jurisdictions from 1 January to 31 December 2008. Figures do not include transfers of AONM made within the fuel cycle of a state (or of Euratom), return of heels (residual UF6 remaining in cylinders), or damaged product.

[23] Includes transfers from Cameco (Blind River) to Springfields in UK.

[24] ESARDA—European Safeguards Research and Development Association.

[25] By 7 July 2009, eight States Parties, from the Western European and Other Group (WEOG), Africa and Asia Regional Groups, had nominated candidates to the Executive Council for its consideration. On 15 July, one nomination from the Africa Group was withdrawn, leaving a field of seven candidates. As Australia draws close to the end of its term on the Executive Council in May 2010, it remains important to continue working closely with other States Parties and the EC Chairman to seek agreement on a single candidate prior to the 14th Conference of the States Parties (30 November–4 December 2009).

 

Return to top of page