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Australia-Republic of Korea Nuclear Safeguards: Front-End Retransfer Agreement

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Media Release


Australia and the Republic of Korea (ROK) exchanged diplomatic
notes in Seoul on 11 August as the first step towards bringing into
force an Agreement modifying the manner in which Australia will
provide its consent for the retransfer, for specified purposes, of
nuclear material to third countries.

Commonly called "a front-end retransfer settlement" because it
relates to nuclear material before irradiation in a nuclear reactor,
this Agreement will be similar to arrangements Australia has with a
number of other bilateral partners. The ROK is a major customer for
Australian uranium and accounts for an increasing share of our

Nuclear material is often processed in separate countries at
different stages of the international nuclear fuel cycle. Until now,
requests by the ROK to retransfer to third countries nuclear material
subject to the 1979 "Australia-ROK Agreement concerning the
Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy and the Transfer of
Nuclear Material" has required Australia's written consent on a
case-by-case basis.

Under the new Agreement such consent is exercised in advance, on a
generic basis for retransfers for specified purposes at the
"front-end" of the nuclear fuel cycle. These purposes are conversion,
enrichment to less than 20 per cent in the isotope U-235, fuel
fabrication, and related research in these areas and under the terms
of the Agreement may be effected by not)fication of the quantities

Case-by-case approvals will still be required for retransfers not
specifically covered by the new Agreement. As with our nuclear
safeguards agreements with other countries, retransfers are limited
to countries within Australia's bilateral safeguards network and the
material will continue to be accounted for by the Australian
Safeguards Office.

The granting of such advance consent in no way detracts from
Australia's non-proliferation and security objectives. It streamlines
the operation of the 1979 Agreement by removing a layer of
administrative process whilst preserving Australia's fundamental
right to approve retransfers and to designate the countries to which
the retransfers may be made.

In accordance with Australia's treaty-making procedures, the
exchanged diplomatic notes constituting the Agreement will be tabled
in Parliament for fifteen sitting days. The Agreement will enter into
force on the date when Australia and the Republic of Korea have
notified each other that all necessary domestic, legal and
constitutional procedures required to give effect to the Agreement
are completed.

Further Information: Julie McDonald 06 261 3665.

Last Updated: 19 September 2014
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