The export of uranium from Australia is currently regulated by the Customs (Prohibited Exports) Regulations 1958 (Cth). Regulation 9(3) prohibits the export of uranium unless prior permission in writing is granted by the Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism (RET). Where such permission is granted, a Mineral Export Permit (MEP) is issued to the exporter on a conditional long-term basis and further approvals are required for each shipment.
A person wishing to export uranium from Australia must write to the Minster formally requesting approval, including information relating to the exporter’s background, source of material, proposed export quantity, arrangements and contract value. RET further requires the end user to submit a statement as to the ownership and operations of the end user, the intended use, disposal or re-export of Australian material and end user home governmental controls and arrangements.
As a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the current Australian government policy requires that:
- uranium may only be exported for peaceful, civilian purposes under a network of bilateral safeguards agreements10providing for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards;
- recipient countries must be parties to the NPT (it is expected that an exception will be made for India);
- where a recipient country is a nuclear weapon state under the NPT (ie. China, US, UK, Russia and France), assurances must be provided that the uranium will not be diverted to non-peaceful uses and the IAEA safeguards must be accepted;
- clearance must be given by the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office before an MEP may be issued.
- recipient countries that are non-nuclear weapon states must have an Additional Protocol that ensures the IAEA has access to and inspection rights in the recipient country.