MEDIA RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE
AUSTRALIA

D24

15 November 1999

Australia and France Sign an Implementing Arrangement

Australia and France have exchanged letters on the transfer to France of spent fuel elements from the research reactor at Lucas Heights, as part of their Bilateral Nuclear Safeguards Agreement.

The exchange of letters sets out conditions for the spent fuel to be reprocessed by the Compagnie Générale des Matières Nucléaires (COGEMA) at their La Hague facility. Reprocessing separates radioactive waste from the spent fuel and converts it into a stable waste form.

In line with Australia's view that countries are responsible for the long term management of their own radioactive wastes, the waste arising from reprocessing will be returned to Australia.

The transfer of Australian spent fuel elements for reprocessing in France complies fully with Australia's international obligations relating to safeguards, physical security, transport and safety and is consistent with Australia's non-proliferation objectives and policies.

Under the Australia-France Agreement, all nuclear material is subject to International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards to ensure that nuclear material is not diverted from peaceful use.

Media Contact: Matt Francis 02 6261 1555