In a Written Ministerial Statement of 11 January, the Government set out its two-fold strategy for Euratom Exit. This strategy included a commitment to put in place all the necessary measures to ensure that the UK can operate as an independent and responsible nuclear state upon the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, at which point the UK will be legally responsible for its own nuclear safeguards regime.
These measures include the negotiation of bilateral safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). These new agreements – a Voluntary Offer Agreement and an Additional Protocol – will replace the current, trilateral, safeguards agreements between UK, the IAEA and Euratom.
We have made good progress in these negotiations. Both the UK and IAEA are clear that the new agreements should follow the same principles and scope as the current trilateral agreements. We will continue to offer a comprehensive facilities list to the IAEA, enabling them to designate and inspect their chosen sites for the purposes of international verification.
In order to ensure continuity for the nuclear sector, on 22 March the Government notified the IAEA that the UK will be taking legal responsibility for its own nuclear safeguards regime in the long term and started the process of seeking formal IAEA agreement to a new Voluntary Offer Agreement and accompanying Additional Protocol for the UK. We expect these agreements to undergo UK ratification later this year. The agreements will only come into force once existing agreements no longer apply.
We will continue to seek a close association with Euratom, including the possibility of future co-operation on nuclear non-proliferation and safeguards, and any potential role for Euratom in supporting the establishment of the UK’s own domestic safeguards regime.
The Written Ministerial Statement of 11 January included a commitment to report back every three months about overall progress on Euratom to keep Parliament updated. I am pleased to confirm that the first such update has today been provided to Parliament. The paper is being placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The next update on progress is scheduled for June 2018.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords