David Lowry: Recently in the United Kingdom a major political debate has broken out over whether the planned departure by the UK from the European Union also must mean the UK’s departure from Euratom. The UK Government had earlier explained they intend UK nuclear security regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to take over from the independent safeguards inspectors from Euratom, to ‘self-police’ the British nuclear industry against military misuse. This is a highly contentious proposal. Although as a nuclear-weapon member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty the United Kingdom does not have an obligation to place its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards, right now all its civilian activities are covered by international safeguards, administered by Euratom. Oversight by a national regulator would not be an adequate substitute to Euratom safeguards. Even though the government indicated its willingness to conclude a Voluntary Offer Agreement with the IAEA–the current one, INFCIRC/263/Add.1, relies on Euratom–in the current IAEA practice facilities in nuclear weapon states are not normally safeguarded. To provide true continuity of international safeguards the United Kingdom would have to provide the IAEA with additional resources that would allow the Agency to directly implement its safeguards at UK nuclear facilities that are currently under Euratom safeguards.
IPFM 2nd Aug 2017 read more »