Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office: Annual Report 2012-13

Output 1.3: Bilateral Safeguards

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

Performance Measures

  • AONM is accounted for in accordance with the procedures and standards prescribed under relevant bilateral agreements
  • Implementing arrangements for the bilateral agreements are reviewed and revised as necessary to ensure their continuing effectiveness

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. Based on 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 2012.

Table 10: Summary of AONM by category, quantity and location at 31 December 201222

Category
Location
Tonnes23
Depleted Uranium
Canada, European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, United States,
113 562
Natural Uranium
Canada, China, European Union, Japan, Republic of Korea, United States, Russia
25 016
Uranium in Enrichment Plants
European Union, Japan, United States
21 284
Low Enriched Uranium24
Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, United States
15 785
Irradiated Plutonium25
Canada, European Union, Japan, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, United States, China
155
Separated Plutonium26
European Union, Japan
1.6
TOTAL
175 804

The end-use for all AONM is for the production of electric power in civil nuclear reactors and for related research and development. AONM cannot be used for any military purpose.

Table 11: Supply of Australian uranium to customers during 2012 – as delivered to customers' converter accounts

Region
Tonnes UOC (U3O8)
% of Total
Asia
1 829
27.9
Europe
2 632
40.1
North America
2 104
32.0
TOTAL
6 565
100.0

Note: This table does not include material (Australian and non-Australian obligated) which has been loaned to, or purchased by, Australian uranium producers overseas to meet contractual delivery obligations due to shortfalls in production.

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

Table 12: Summary of AONM Transfers, 201227

Destination
U (tonnes)
Conversion
Canada
1 745
China
1 347
European Union28
996
Russia
11
United States
2 504
Enrichment
European Union
786
United States
0
Fuel Fabrication
Japan
85
Republic of Korea
144
United States
222
European Union
141
Reactor Irradiation
Japan
5.9
Taiwan
4.5

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 notifies each export to the safeguards authorities in 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 safeguards agreement as well as to nuclear-weapon states 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 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 12 are based on ASNO's analysis of all available information at the time of publication.

Australia–Russia Nuclear Cooperation Agreement Implementation

In September 2012, Australia and Russia conducted a trial shipment of Australian uranium to Russia. This was the first shipment of Australian uranium subject to the Australia–Russia nuclear cooperation agreement, which came into force in November 2010. The trial was completed successfully. On 25–26 March 2013, Australian and Russian officials met to consult on practical arrangements for the implementation of the bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement (see Current Topics article on this subject on page 34). A key focus of the discussions was a review of the trial shipment.

Australia–United Arab Emirates Nuclear Cooperation Agreement

The Agreement between Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy was signed by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Carr and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on
31 July 2012. The Agreement was tabled in Parliament on 12 March 2013 for review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT), which held public hearings on the Agreement on 13 May and 17 June 2013. JSCOT is expected to issue its report on the proposed agreement over 2013–14.

Australia–India Nuclear Cooperation Negotiations

Following the Prime Minister's announcement in October 2012 that negotiations on a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement between Australia and India would commence, the first round of negotiations was held on 19 March 2013 in New Delhi. Further negotiations will take place through 2013–14. There is no set timeframe for the conclusion of negotiations.

Silex Systems Limited

On 25 September 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a license to General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) to construct and operate a uranium enrichment plant using Silex laser technology in Wilmington, N.C. In March 2013, ASNO met with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials and representatives from GLE at Silex systems Limited (SSL) to discuss oversight arrangements pertaining to on-going collaborative work between SSL and GLE. ASNO and NRC also discussed necessary updates to the classification guide for Silex technology and corresponding updates to the Australia–US administrative security arrangements for the Australia–US nuclear cooperation agreement on Silex technology.


22 Figures are based on yearly reports to ASNO in accordance with Australia's bilateral agreements and other information held by ASNO.

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

24 An estimated 80–90 per cent of Australian obligated low enriched uranium is in the form of spent reactor fuel.

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

26 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.

27 Figures are for transfers completed between jurisdictions from 1 January to 31 December 2012. 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 after emptying), or damaged product.

28 Includes transfers from Cameco Corp (Blind River, Canada) to Springfields Fuels, Ltd (United Kingdom).