Your Brexit correspondent misses the main issue arising from the UK nuclear regulator’s report leaked to Sky News. On July 13 last year, the UK Government position paper on “Nuclear materials and safeguards issues,” included the key proposal that the UK will: “take responsibility for meeting the UK’s safeguards obligations, as agree with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).” Currently “ safeguards” are applied in the UK under a ‘voluntary ‘trilateral treaty between the UK, Euratom and the IAEA. It comprises 36 pages in total, opening with the key element in the treaty stating in A r t i c l e 1(a) “The United Kingdom shall accept the application of safeguards, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in facilities or parts thereof within the United Kingdom, subject to exclusions for national security reasons only (my emphasis) The exclusion opt out is explained at Article 14 which reads in part: “If the United Kingdom intends to make any withdrawals of nuclear material from the scope of this Agreement for national security reasons …. it shall give the Community (ie Euratom) and the Agency (IAEA) advance notice of such withdrawal…” The ONR has been given unprecedented responsibility for policing a diplomatically contentious new arrangement, which will increase suspicion among member states of the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty ( for which the UK , as a co-drafter of the treaty text, is one of three depositary states) – which ministers pray-in-aid whenever they discuss the rationale for a UK nuclear safeguards system. However, ministers routinely cherry-pick those parts of the NPT that suite their purposes: but the NPT is an integrated diplomatic agreement, with its articles all relevant and related. Cherry-picking is both diplomatically unwise, as it normalises abrogation for other signatory nations, and undermines the very treaty for which the UK is supposed to act as a protective depositary state!
David Lowry’s Blog 17th May 2018 read more »
The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, asking for his response to media reports that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is falling behind in its efforts to prepare for Brexit. Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community) implements a system of safeguards to control the use of nuclear materials. The Government has made arrangements for the UK to leave Euratom at the same time as leaving the EU, because the two share an institutional framework. However, failure to establish its own safeguarding regime before leaving Euratom may mean the UK is unable to import nuclear material, with severe consequences for energy security given that 20% of the UK’s electricity comes from nuclear generation.
Parliament 18th May 2018 read more »