Question No. 364
Senator Ludlam asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 17 December 2010:
With reference to the monitoring of Burma's alleged nuclear program and the role of the Australian Safeguards and Non Proliferation Office (ASNO):
(1) (a) What efforts have been made to monitor developments in Burma relating to its alleged nuclear weapons program since May 2010; and (b) what role has ASNO played.
(2) At the September 2010 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Assembly in Vienna, the Burmese military junta's statement included a refutation of allegations of a nuclear weapons program. What has the IAEA done to investigate this statement.
(3) How has Australia used its position on the Board of Governors, and Australia's Mission in Vienna to address this potentially very serious proliferation issue in our region.
Senator Conroy - the following answer has been provided by the Minister for Foreign Affairs to the Honourable Senator's question:
(1) (a) and (b) refer to the response provided to Question No. 338 (1).
(2) Prior to the Burmese Government's September 2010 statement to the IAEA General Conference, the IAEA Director General said on 7 June 2010 that the IAEA was assessing allegations about a Burmese nuclear weapons program and, if necessary, would seek clarification from Burma.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware that the IAEA Secretariat has written to the Burmese Government. Such communication, is confidential to the parties.
Within the scope of Burma's safeguards obligations to the IAEA, IAEA Director General Amano, in his Safeguards Statement for 2010 (submitted to and noted by the IAEA Board of Governors at its June 2011 meeting) concluded that for 2010 "the Secretariat found no indication of the diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful purposes". On that basis, the IAEA Secretariat stated that "declared nuclear material remained in peaceful purposes".
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is aware that the IAEA holds regular discussions with Burma, including each year during the week of the IAEA General Conference (usually held in September or October). In July 2011, both Burma and the IAEA Secretariat attended the meeting of the Australia-initiated Asia-Pacific Safeguards Network.
(3) Refer to the response provided to Question No. 338 (3).