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  Library Treaties Non-Proliferation Treaty, Cluster 3 UK, May 1999

Cluster 3

Check Against Delivery

NPT PrepCom May 1999

UK intervention in Cluster Debate on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

Introductory remarks

Mr Chairman,

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The United Kingdom fully supports the earlier statement made by the representative of the Federal Republic of Germany on behalf of the European Union. I should now like to add one or two points from a national perspective.

Paragraph 14 of the Principles and Objectives document sets out the inalienable right of all parties to the NPT to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I, II and III of the Treaty. At the first and second meetings of the Preparatory Committee, we underlined the United Kingdom's long-standing commitment to encouraging the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Today I should like to reiterate this commitment and give just a few concrete examples of the way in which the United Kingdom has been living up to it.

Nuclear Safety

Mr Chairman,

We continue to regard a strong commitment to nuclear safety, as embodied in paragraph 18 of the Principles and Objectives document, as a key element in creating a climate of confidence in which the peaceful uses of nuclear energy can flourish. We therefore supported and welcomed the First Review Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, held in Vienna on 12-23 April, and look forward to further progress under the Convention.

Waste management

The United Kingdom's policy on radioactive waste management takes account of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, of which we are a signatory. The UK recognises the particular problems of radioactive waste management in North West Russia, and is committed to launching a £3 million bilateral prograrnrne of assistance this year. The UK will also continue to support international efforts, including those of the EU, in this field.

Illicit Trafficking

The United Kingdom continues to take very seriously the problem of illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. But we need to keep it in proportion: very few incidents have involved fissile material. Of those that have, only tiny amounts of material have been involved, a fraction of the amount needed to make a nuclear weapon. Nevertheless, we shall continue to be active in supporting international efforts to combat nuclear smuggling. Physical protection and safeguards remain the most effective means of preventing theft.

At the 1996 Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit, the G8 agreed a "Programme for Preventing and Combating Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Material". The G8 Non-Proliferation Experts Group was tasked with the implementation of the Programme. To date, this has resulted in the setting up of a Points of Contact System designed to facilitate the exchange of information on serious smuggling incidents; the agreement of a Framework document to provide for enhanced co-operation and information-sharing between law enforcement, customs and intelligence agencies; and continued efforts to expand participation in the Programme. During our chairmanship of the G8, the UK ran an exercise to test the G8 Points of Contact system. We also undertook a survey of border monitoring equipment for the detection of radioactive materials. The information obtained has been passed on to the International Technical Working Group and the IAEA to evaluate. Under its present German chairmanship, the G8, together with the IAEA, is now planning to run a test of the expanded Points of Contact system in June of this year.

The United Kingdom intends to continue to play an active role in combating illicit trafficking.

Reactor safety

The United Kingdom considers it essential that nuclear power plants in Central and Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States are brought up to operational levels of safety equal to those in Western Europe. To assist in achieving this, the UK has continued to commit itself to international co-operative efforts, such as the Regional Technical Cooperation nuclear safety assistance projects aimed at Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, to which we have contributed a further $100,000 in the past year.

Y2K

We welcome the work which the IABA is doing to address the Y2K problem, and recognise the importance of meeting this challenge. Over the last year we have contributed $100,000 towards funding the Agency's work in this area.

These contributions towards international efforts are only part of the United Kingdom's overall contribution to the raising of standards of nuclear safety world-wide. We also have a number of bilateral programrnes aimed at improving standards of physical protection and nuclear materials accountancy, as also called for by paragraph 18 of the Principles and Objectives document.

IAEA Fundin~ Technical Co-oi,eration Funding

Some of the work I have already mentioned has been carried out with the IABA. This brings me to the funding of the IABA's core activities, which is the subject of paragraph 19 of the Principles and Objectives document. We recognise our particular responsibilities to the IABA, both as a founder member, a designated member of the Board of Governors and as a nuclear weapons State.

We believe that all Member States should pay their Regular Budget contributions in fill] and in a timely manner. We call upon all Member States that have not already done so to meet their statutory commitments and help to reduce the Agency's level of accumulated arrears.

We also take seriously the commitment contained in paragraph 19 to the funding of the technical co-operation activities of the IABA. The United Kingdom has paid its full target share of the lechnical Co-operation Fund this year and we have ensured that we are also fully up to date for previous years. We strongly urge all Member States of the IAEA to meet their full target contributions to the Fund.

We are concerned that there is a growing accumulation of unpaid obligations to the IABA in the form of Assessed Programme Costs, which we regard as a key indicator of the commitment of recipient States to the projects being carried out in their own countries. We note with disappointment that, according to the Agency's figures, only 51% of the 1997 total assessed programme costs were paid by the end of 1998, and would urge all States to pay their contributions in full.

Transparency in Export Controls

Mr Chairman,

The United Kingdom continues to believe that transparency in the operation of export control regimes is crucial if they are to be seen to be fair, and that this in turn wilt encourage universal implementation. To this end, we supported the second Transparency Seminar held last month by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. It is important that States continue to apply nuclear export controls effectively, in accordance with their NPT and other international nuclear non-proliferation commitments, and as a means of promoting confidence in nuclear trade. We will continue to support work to ensure that export controls are not only effective and fair but can be seen to be so by all parties.

Conclusion

Mr Chairman,

In conclusion, the United Kingdom remains strong in its commitment to the promotion of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We already have a solid record of achievements in this area and are continuing to work to meet our commitment to ensure that nuclear energy is used both peacefully and safely.