14.09.2017_No183 / News in Brief

Brexit: UK Announces Plans To Establish Domestic Nuclear Safeguards Regime

Policies & Politics

14 Sep (NucNet): The UK government has decided to establish a domestic nuclear safeguards regime which will meet existing European atomic energy community (Euratom) standards and exceed the standards that the international community would require from the UK as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, energy secretary Greg Clark announced in a policy statement on 14 September 2017. 

Mr Clark said the regime will ensure that the UK continues to maintain its position as a responsible nuclear state and that withdrawal from Euratom, which oversees the movement of nuclear materials across Europe, will not result in the weakening of its future safeguards standards and oversight.

Mr Clark said the government believes it is vitally important that the new domestic nuclear safeguards regime, to be run by the Office for Nuclear Regulation, is as comprehensive and robust as that provided by Euratom.

“International oversight will be a key part of the future regime,” Mr Clark said.

“The UK is seeking to conclude new agreements with the IAEA that follow the same principles as our current ones. This will ensure that the IAEA retains its right to inspect all civil nuclear facilities, and continue to receive all current safeguards reporting, ensuring that international verification of our safeguards activity continues to be robust.”

He said discussions with the European Union are continuing.

“We will be exploring a number of options for smooth transition from the current Euratom regime to a domestic one.”

The UK nuclear industry body, the Nuclear Industry Association, has always said its preferred position is to remain in Euratom.

The government insists that leaving Euratom is an inevitable consequence of triggering article 50 and proceeding to Brexit – a position shared by the European negotiators.

The opposition Labour Party said recently that the UK should remain in Euratom, adding it was increasingly clear that the government acted “recklessly” by giving up on membership of Euratom.

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David Dalton

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