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Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Peace and Security in Northeast Asia Policy Brief  No.122 - January, 2022

Crashing Nuclear Submarines Through IAEA Safeguards

This Policy Brief focuses on important relevant issues and questions pertaining to the AUKUS plan to equip the Royal Australian Navy with nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs). The AUKUS states apparently have initiated non-transparent and secret discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency on how best to take advantage of a “grey area” or “loophole” in IAEA comprehensive safeguards to exclude weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium from Agency safeguards. China and the Russian Federation have launched diplomatic fusillades across the bow of the IAEA’s Board of Governors criticising the AUKUS plan for providing nuclear-powered submarines to Australia. However the Agency responds, now is the time to further strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of the IAEA safeguards system, not to weaken it and not drive a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines through it.