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AUKUS submarine deal 'very tricky' for nuclear inspectors -IAEA chief

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By Reuters
AUKUS submarine deal 'very tricky' for nuclear inspectors -IAEA chief
AUKUS submarine deal 'very tricky' for nuclear inspectors -IAEA chief   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021   -  

<div> <p>By Francois Murphy</p> <p><span class="caps">VIENNA</span> – The head of the United Nations atomic agency has said the <span class="caps">AUKUS</span> deal in which Australia will obtain nuclear submarine technology from the United States is a “very tricky” issue in terms of inspections but in can be managed.</p> <p>The submarine deal is part of a three-way defence agreement announced by Washington, London and Canberra last month which infuriated France because Australia said it would cancel an existing order for French diesel-powered submarines.</p> <p>It would also be the first time that a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obtains nuclear submarines, apart from the five nuclear weapons states recognised by the <span class="caps">NPT</span> – the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain. India, which has not signed the <span class="caps">NPT</span>, also has nuclear submarines.</p> <p>“It is a technically very tricky question and it will be the first time that a country that does not have nuclear weapons has a nuclear sub,” <span class="caps">IAEA</span> chief Rafael Grossi, whose agency polices the <span class="caps">NPT</span>, told the <span class="caps">BBC</span>’s HardTalk programme in comments broadcast on Tuesday.</p> <p>Grossi confirmed that an <span class="caps">NPT</span> signatory can exclude nuclear material from <span class="caps">IAEA</span> supervision, also known as safeguards, while that material is fuelling a submarine. It is a rare exception to the <span class="caps">IAEA</span>’s constant supervision of all nuclear material to ensure it is not used to make atom bombs.</p> <p>“In other words, a country … is taking material away from the inspectors for some time, and we are talking about highly, very highly enriched uranium,” he said.</p> <p>“What this means is that we, with Australia, with the United States and with the United Kingdom, we have to enter into a very complex, technical negotiation to see to it that as a result of this there is no weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”</p> <p>He did not indicate how long those negotiations would last.</p> <p/> </div>