165 Briefing Background Paper for Australian Delegatioin to IAEA Safeguards Committee1

Canberra, 17 June 1970


[matter omitted]

The task of administering safeguards under the NPT is quite different from the original concept under the Statute, though it is to be recognised that some of the countries do not take the view that administering the NPT safeguards is going to be 'quite different' from the original concept. Based on the Statute, the Agency has built up a system of inspection and audit which it applies in those cases where countries supplying nuclear materials, equipment or services to other countries, have made this a condition of supply, or where countries have voluntarily invited the application of such safeguards to their nuclear activities. The system is highly detailed an follows all source and special fissionable materials, even in quite small quantities, for all time.

The safeguarding task of the Agency is at present a very small one in comparison with the task facing it under the NPT. It involves the Agency only in the safeguarding of activities which it has been invited to safeguard. These are a very small part of the present total nuclear activities of the world, which will grow at a great rate. In seeking to decide what safeguarding is necessary under the NPT, the present Agency safeguards system should be used only to the extent that it is relevant to the aims of the Treaty which, in relation to safeguards, are to prevent 'diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices'.

The present Agency safeguards philosophy, if it were applied to the expanding nuclear industries in most countries and to all source and special fissionable material as well as to facilities, could produce in the next twenty years a situation in which its costs could be extremely high and its efficiency would probably be low. The present safeguards system in such circumstances may not fully achieve its purposes.

[matter omitted]

Safeguards for Euratom

The soundness of the above principles with regard to an adequate national system and a regional system and their possible relevance to NPT safeguards needs to be recognised. Euratom is a prime example and emphasis should be placed on the need for an early solution to the IAEA Euratom safeguards question.

It is felt that it would be advisable for the Safeguards Committee to begin with the question of the application of safeguards to Euratom. Australia's view, conveyed to the Agency's Director-General, is that safeguards under Article III of the Treaty should be uniform and nondiscriminatory. It is known, of course, that Japan takes the view that all States or groups of States Party to the Treaty should sign a basically similar agreement, the underlying principle of which would be that inspection would be a verification of the safeguards system of a State or group of States. It would be desirable to support this view of the Japanese and to enlist the support of any other like minded countries.

[NAA: A1838, 719/10/6 part 10]