I am pleased to announce that China’s Foreign Minister Mr Li Zhaoxing and I have today signed a Nuclear Transfer Agreement and a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. These agreements will allow for the supply of Australian uranium to China’s nuclear power program, and cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

These agreements establish strict safeguards arrangements and conditions to ensure Australian uranium supplied to China, and any collaborative programs in applications of nuclear technology, is used exclusively for peaceful purposes.

These agreements are consistent with Australia’s long term policy of applying safeguards and restrictions on uranium exports. The agreements also further build on and consolidate twenty five years of development of safeguards requirements since agreements with other nuclear weapon states were first negotiated.

Given China’s high projected growth in electricity demand over the coming years, there are clear environmental benefits in diversifying from fossil fuels to low greenhouse-emission technologies such as nuclear power. Having the world’s largest uranium resources, Australia has a particular responsibility and opportunity to consolidate its position as a secure supplier of energy resources, and leads by example in the application of strict safeguards.

The Cooperation Agreement provides for collaboration in a broad range of peaceful applications of nuclear equipment and technology. Early areas of work may be in material science research at OPAL, the new research reactor at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation in Sydney. Other opportunities provided under the Cooperation Agreement include collaborative projects in nuclear safeguards and security with the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office.

In accordance with Australian treaty-making practice, these agreements will be tabled in Parliament for review by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties before binding treaty action is taken. However, I have now released the texts of the agreements with accompanying information which can be found at www.asno.dfat.gov.au.