... Largest uranium resources in the world ... Best practice worker and public health management ... Best practice product transportation management ... Supporting world’s best non-proliferation safeguards ... Positioned for strong nuclear energy growth in our region ... Facilitating clean, low emissions electricity production for an energy scarce world

Exports & safeguards

Australia's Uranium Exports Policy

Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Trade and Security

Nuclear Exports and Safeguards

Australia's uranium export policy acknowledges the strategic significance which distinguishes uranium from other energy commodities. Australian policy has consistently recognised that special arrangements need to be put in place to distinguish between the civil and military applications of nuclear energy.

Australia's uranium export policy embodies fundamental tenets first outlined in 1977, adjusted to reflect a number of international and domestic developments in the intervening period. It provides assurances that exported uranium and its derivatives cannot benefit the development of nuclear weapons or be used in other military programs. This is done by precisely accounting for amounts of Australian-Obligated Nuclear Material (AONM) as it moves through the nuclear fuel cycle. At the same time, the policy recognises the needs of customer countries and the nuclear industry for predictability about the way Australia exercises the non-proliferation conditions governing its uranium supply.

In summary, Australia's policy is that:

  • Australian uranium may only be exported for peaceful non-explosive purposes under Australia's network of bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements, which provide for:
    • coverage by IAEA safeguards
    • fallback safeguards in the event that IAEA safeguards no longer apply for any reason
    • prior Australian consent for any transfer of AONM to a third party, for any enrichment beyond 20 per cent of uranium-235 and for reprocessing of AONM, and
    • physical security requirements.
  • Australia retains the right to be selective as to the countries with which it is prepared to conclude safeguards arrangements.
  • Non-nuclear weapon state customer countries must at a minimum be a party to the NPT and have concluded a fullscope safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.
  • Nuclear weapon state customer countries must provide an assurance that AONM will not be diverted to non-peaceful or explosive uses and accept coverage of AONM by IAEA safeguards.
  • Commercial contracts for the export of Australian uranium should include a clause noting that the contract is subject to the relevant bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement.
  • The Australian Government has further tightened Australia's export policy by making an Additional Protocol with the IAEA (providing for strengthened safeguards) a pre-condition for the supply of Australian obligated uranium to all states.

Source: http://dfat.gov.au/international-relations/security/non-proliferation-disarmament-arms-control/policies-agreements-treaties/Pages/australias-uranium-export-policy.aspx

Latest developments
  • In September 2014, the Government announced a range of sanctions on trade with Russia. One such measure was to ban the export of Australian uranium to Russia for Russian domestic use and stockpiling.
  • Australia and India signed a nuclear cooperation agreement (NCA) on 5 September 2014. The NCA was tabled in Parliament on 28 October 2014 and referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) for consideration.
  • JSCOT tabled its report (Report 151) on 8 September 2015.  Subject to certain recommendations, the report recommended binding treaty action be taken.
  • The government tabled its response to the JSCOT report on 11 November 2015.
  • On 25 November 2015, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced that Australia had finalised two agreements to facilitate uranium exports with India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  The Australia-India Nuclear Cooperation Agreement permits Australian companies to commence commercial uranium exports to India.  The announcement confirmed also that the administrative arrangements had also been signed and uranium exports can begin immediately. The agreements set out strict conditions for the peaceful use, safeguarding and security of Australian uranium.
  • Australia now has 24 nuclear cooperation agreements in force, allowing exports to 42 countries plus Taiwan.

Source: ASNO Annual report 2014-15, http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Treaties

Supply of Australian uranium by region during 2014

Region Tonnes UOC (U3O8) Share %
Asia 767.7 13.6
Europe 443.4 7.8
North America  4457.5 78.6
5688.6 100.0

Source: ASNO Annual report 2014-15​